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CRYPTOGRAPHY 

OR 

THE   HISTORY,  PRINCIPLES,  AND  PRACTICE  OF 
CIPHER-WRITING 


w 


>TOGRA 

OR 

The  History,  Principles,  and  Practice 

OF 

CIPHER-WRITING 


e<^  BY 

Fl^EDWARD    HULME,    F.L.S.,    F.S.A 

U\ 

AUTHOR   OF    "familiar   WILD     FLOWERS,"    "  MYTHLAND," 
"  NATURAL     HISTORY     LORE     AND      LEGEND," 

"the  birth  and  development  OF 

ORNAMENT,"      "  WAYSIDK 
SKETCHES,"  ETC 


Heres  noiv  mystery  and  hieroglyphic ^ 

Ben  Jonson — The  Alchemy  si. 


LONDON 
WARWICK  HOUSE,    SALISBURY  SQUARE,   E.C 

NEW  YORK   AND   MELBOURNE 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  I 

PAGE 

Meaning  of  cryptography — Objections  to  its  study — Its 
legitimate  use  and  value — Historic  examples  of  its 
employment — Deliglit  in  the  mysterious — Many  other 
ways  of  conveying  secret  information — Symbolism  of 
action — The  spoken  word  imprisoned  and  dispatched 
— A  matter  not  necessarily  secret  because  one  cannot 
understand  it  —  Egyptian  hieroglypliics  —  Chinese 
characters — Indian  mutiny  Greek — Ancient  Biblical 
cryptogram  —  Sheshach  of  Jeremiah  —  Sir  Henry 
Eawlinson  thereon — Statements  for  and  against — 
Julius  Caesar's  secret  code — The  waxed  tablet  of 
Demaratus — Difference  between  hidden  and  secret 
writing — The  shaven  head  a  writing  tablet — Charle- 
magne and  Alfred  the  Great  as  cryptographic  experts 
— Mediaeval  authorities — Trithemius  the  Benedictine 
— "  Steganographia  " — Dabbling  in  the  black  art — 
Dr.  Dee — Batista  Porta's  book  on  "Natural  Majick" 
— Invisible  writing — Chemical  methods  by  vitriol, 
alum,  etc. — Writing  on  glass  or  crystal — Papal  In- 
quisition— Disappearing  writing — Messages  wrapped 
round  rollers— Two  methods — A  slave's  back  the 
writing  surface — Chemical  methods  of  no  great  value 
ordinarily — Disadvantages  of  use — Action  of  light 
and  heat— Chloride  of  cobalt,  sulphate  of  copper,  etc. 
— Often  impossible  to  procure  the  materials       .         .11 

5 


6  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  II 

PAGE 

Ancient  use  of  arbitrary  symbols — Tyroiiian  abbreviations 
— Early  works  on  shorthand— Excessive  abbreviation 
of  inscriptions  on  coins,  etc. — Telegram-English — 
Mason-marks— Rise  of  cipher-writing  in  England — 
Clarendon's  "  History  of  the  Rebellion  " — Battle  of 
Naseby — Royal  correspondence  captured  and  de- 
ciphered— Published  by  Parliament — Weighted  naval 
signal-codes — Charles  I.  a  great  expert  in  crypto- 
graphy— Use  of  nulles  or  non-significants — Numeri- 
cal ciphers — Mediaeval  inscription  without  vowels — 
Ciphers  of  Queen  Henrietta  and  Sir  Ralph  Yerney — 
Great  use  of  cipher  at  troublous  periods  of  history 
— The  "  Century  of  Inventions  "  of  the  Marquis  of 
Worcester — Birth  of  the  steam-engine — Dedication 
of  his  labours  to  the  nation — His  numerous  sugges- 
tions for  cryptograms— The  "disk"  cryptogram- 
Principle  modified  to  sliding  strip — Bead  alphabet — 
Heraldic  representation  of  colours  in  black  and  white 
— The  "string"  cipher — Bacon  a  cryptographic  en- 
thusiast—His  essentials  of  a  good  cipher— His 
highest  perfection  of  a  cipher — His  plan  cumbrous 
and  unsatisfactory  —  A  Trithemian  example — 
Elizabethan  arbitrary  mark  ciphers — No  real  mystery 
in  them 61 


CHAPTER   III 

Is  an  undecipherable  cryptogram  possible? — The  art  of 
deciphering — Keys  for  the  analysis  of  a  cryptogram 
— Oft  recurring  letters— Great  repetition  of  vowels 
^Patient  perseverance— Papers  on  the  subject  in 
Gentleman's  Magazine  of  1742— "Value  of  general 
knowledge— Conrad's  rules— The  letter  E—" Noughts 
and  crosses  "  cryptogram — Its  construction — Ciphers 
from  agony  columns  of  Standard  and  Tmies— Prying 
busybodies  — Alternate  letters  significant— Ciphers 


CONTENTS  7 

PAGE 

based  oii  divers  shiftings  of  the  letters — Cryptogram 
in  Cocker's  "  Arithmetick  " — Inventor  in  1761  of 
supposed  absolutely  secret  system — His  hopes  and 
fears  thereon— Illegal  to  publish  Parliamentary  de- 
bates—Evasion of  the  law— Poe's  use  of  cryptogram 
in  story — Secret  marks  made  by  tramps  and  vag- 
rants—Shop ciphers  for  marking  prices  on  goods — 
Cryptogrammic  trade  advertisements  -Examples  of 
cipher  construction — The  "grill"  cipher  — The  "rc- 
Tolviug  grill" — The  "slip-card" — Forms  of  numeri- 
cal cipher  —  The  "  Mirabeau  " — Count  Grousfield's 
cipher — Communication  by  nse  of  a  dictionary — The 
"  Newark  "—The  "  Clock-hands  "—The  "  two-word  " 
cipher — Conclusion 108 


ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIG.  TAGE 

1.  Message  wrapped  round  a  Ruler        .         .  .     4G 

2..  Ditto  Illegible  through  Use  of  Wrong  Ruler  48 

3.  Message  Unwrapped  from  Roller      .         .  .48 

4.  Divided  to  show  Facility  for  Detection  .  .     49 

5.  Better  Method  of  Roller  Forji  of  Message  .     50 

6.  Message  of  No.  5  Unrolled       .         .         .  .51 

7.  Mason-marks  from  Ancient  Buildings        .  .     66 

8.  The  ''  Revolving  Disk  "  Cipher  .         .         .  .88 

9.  Modification  of  Fig.  8  for  Straight  Edge  .     91 

10.  The  "Bead"  Cipher 98 

11.  The  "String"  Cipher 100 

12.  Elizabethan  Arbitrary  Symbols  for  Letters     .  105 

13.  The  "  Noughts  and  Crosses  "  Cipher         .        .  124 

14.  The  "  Noughts  and  Crosses  " :  Key  Changed    .  126 

15.  The  "  Grille  " :  Pierced   Card  ....  154 

16.  The  "  Grille  ":  Message  Read  through  Openings  156 


17.  The  "Grille":  Message  as  Sent  off 

18.  The  "  Revolving  Grille  "  Form  of  Cipher 

9 


158 
160 


10 


ILLUSTRATIONS 


19.  Total    of   Openfngs    made    by   Revolution    of 

Grille 

20.  The  Message  by  "Revolving  Grille 

21.  The  "Slip-card"  Cipher  . 

22.  Inscription  from  Church  in  Spain 

23.  Numerical  Form  of  Cipher 

24.  The  "Newark"  Cipher    . 

25.  The  "  Clock-hands  "  Cipher 

26.  The  "Two-word"  Cipher. 


161 
163 
165 
174 
175 
177 
181 
183 


CHAPTER    I 

Meaning  of  cryptography — Objections  to  its  study — Its  legit- 
imate use  and  value — Historic  examples  of  its  employ- 
ment— Delight  in  the  mysterious — Many  other  ways  of 
conveying  secret  information — Symbolism  of  action — 
The  spoken  word  imprisoned  and  dispatched — A  matter 
not  necessarily  secret  because  one  cannot  understand  it 
— Egyptian  hieroglyphics — Chinese  characters — Indian 
mutiny  Greek— Ancient  Biblical  cryj^togram— Sheshach 
of  Jeremiah — Sir  Henry  Rawlinson  thereon — Statements 
for  and  against — Julius  Caesar's  secret  code— The  waxed 
tablet  of  Demaratus — Difference  between  hidden  and 
secret  writing — The  shaven  head  a  wi-iting  tablet — 
Charlemagne  and  Alfred  the  Great  as  cryptographic 
experts — Mediaeval  authorities — Tritheraius  the  Bene- 
dictine— "  Steganographia  "—Dabbling  in  the  black  art 
— Dr.  Dee — Batista  Porta's  book  on  "  Xatural  Majick" — 
Invisible  writing — Chemical  methods  by  vitriol,  alum, 
etc.— Writing  on  glass  or  crystal — Papal  Inquisition  — 
Disappearing  writing — Messages  wrapped  round  rollers 
— Two  methods — A  slave's  back  the  writing  surface— 
Chemical  methods  of  no  great  value  ordinarily' — Dis- 
advantages of  use  — Action  of  liglit  and  heat — Chloride 
of  cobalt,  sulphate  of  copper,  etc.— Often  impossible  to 
procure  the  materials. 


r  I  iHE    word  Cryptography  is  derived  from 

the  two  Greek  words  hryptos  and  grapho, 

the   first   signifying   that   which  is    concealed 


12  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

or  hidden,  and  tlie  second  meaning  to  write 
or  describe,  and  it  is  in  brief  the  conveying 
in  a  secret  manner  of  any  intelligence  we 
may  desire  to  communicate. 

It  may  at  once  occur  to  our  readers  as  an 
objection  to  the  study  of  cryptography  that 
it  is  an  art  that  may  palpably  be  very  readily 
adapted  to  evil  purpose,  and  that  in  doing 
anything  to  facilitate  its  study  we  are  placing 
a  weapon  in  the  hands  of  the  ill-disposed. 
This  is  an  argument,  however,  that  applies 
equally  to  many  studies  that  nevertheless  are 
of  great  value.  Astronomy  may  in  evil  hands 
become  astrology,  and  the  glorious  stars  them- 
selves mere  counters  for  the  fortune-teller ; 
while  from  the  researches  of  chemistry  may 
be  derived  the  valuable  dye,  the  healing 
medicine,  or  other  beneficent  discovery,  or  it, 
equally  readily,  may  be  perverted  to  supply 
the  arsenal  of  the  dyjiamitard  or  the  subtle 
potion  of  the  secret  poisoner.  Moreover,  even 
if  we  regard  cryptography  as  affording  means 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  1 3 

for  clandestine  or  treasonable  communications, 
it  is  clearly  a  double-edged  sword,  and  a 
knowledge  of  its  principles  and  practice  may 
at  least  equally  well  be  used  to  unmask  deceit 
and  to  unravel  the  tangled  skein  of  the 
traitor. 

It  is  sufficiently  evident,  on  a  moment's  re- 
flection, that  this  art  of  cryptography  has  a 
most  legitimate  use  in  the  world.  There  are 
times  of  stress  and  danger  in  the  history  of 
a  nation  when  it  is  absolutely  impossible  that 
vital  operations  in  the  field  could  be  conducted 
to  a  successful  issue  if  all  the  world  at  their 
inception  had  to  be  taken  into  confidence,  and 
every  step  became  at  once  a  matter  of  common 
knowledge  and  discussion.  In  the  same  way 
the  labours  of  the  diplomatist  could  scarcely 
fructify  to  the  national  benefit  or  turn  aside  a 
national  danger  if  every  step  had  to  be  laid 
bare  to  the  eye  and  the  well-meant  or  acri- 
monious criticism  of  friend  or  foe,  and  become 
at  once  the  property  of  every  tattler  who  could 


14  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

read  a  letter  or  any  traitor  wlio  could  copy 
a  dispatch. 

During  the  stormy  closing  years  of  the  reign 
of  Charles  I.,  we  find  this  art  of  secret  writing 
assiduously  cultivated  both  by  Royalist  and 
Parliamentarian,  as  the  multitudinous  records 
preserved  in  the  British  Museum  and  our 
other  national  archives  abundantly  testify. 
Previously  to  this,  in  the  stirring  times  of 
Queen  Elizabeth  much  use  had  been  made  of 
it,  and  during  the  troublous  days  of  the  French 
Revolution,  when  no  man  of  any  mark  or  in- 
fluence was  safe  any  hour  from  denunciation, 
we  find  an  immense  use  of  this  cipher-writing, 
when  treachery  was  at  its  deadly  work,  or 
when  the  love  that  was  stronger  than  death 
sought  to  shield  the  victim  from  the  impending 
blow,  and  give  the  warning  that  might  yet 
secure  safety  by  timely  flight. 

That  which  is  secret  and  mysterious,  calling 
for  acute  intelligence  to  penetrate  its  meaning, 
has  always   exercised   a   great  fascination   on 


OR  CIPHER-WRiriNG  15 

the  human  mind.  Hence  at  one  end  of  the 
scale  we  have  the  denunciations  of  the  Hebrew 
prophets  clothed  in  mystic  language  or  figured 
in  strange  symbolic  action,^  and  at  the  other 
the  delight  in  puzzledom  that  finds  its  pabulum 
in  missing- word  competitions,  conundrums,  and 
such-like  stimulants  to  the  ingenuity  of  the 
reader.  This  love  of  the  mysterious,  this 
delight  in  setting  one's  wits  to  work  to  excel 
others  or  to  save  oneself  from  checkmate,  is 
one  great  influence  the  more  in  the  fascination 
that  cipher- writing  has  undoubtedly  at  all 
times  possessed. 

Secrecy  of  communication  may  of  course 
take  many  forms.  The  scarcely  perceptible 
movement  of  the  eye  may  convey  a  very  de- 
finite warning,  or  the  talking  on  the  fingers, 

^  This  symbolism  has  always  exercised  a  very  marked 
influence  amongst  Eastern  peoples.  Our  readers  will 
recall,  as  an  example,  the  sending  of  a  bird,  mouse,  frog, 
and  arrow  by  the  Scythians  to  the  Persians,  as  a  gentle 
hint  to  them  that  unless  they  could  escape  as  a  bird 
by  flight,  could  swim  as  frogs,  or  conceal  themselves  as 
mice,  they  wei^e  hastening  to  swift  destruction. 


l6  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

leai'iiedlj  called  dactylology  or  clieirology,  may 
serve  as  a  means  of  conveying  a  message.  The 
significance  of  flowers  may  make  a  bouquet 
eloquent,  or  the  gift  of  a  ring  may,  in  the 
initials  of  the  stones  that  enrich  it,  spell  out 
words  of  sympathy  and  tender  feeling.  The 
Romans  had  a  code  of  communication  based 
on  touching  various  parts  of  the  person  ;  thus 
the  finger  to  the  forehead  meant  F,  while  the 
touching  of  the  beard  signified  B.  Watch- 
fires,  waving  torches,  flashing  mirrors,  jangling 
bells,  have  all  been  utilized ;  but  all  these  are 
mentioned  but  to  dismiss  them,  since  our 
present  purpose  is  to  deal  only  with  such 
methods  of  communication  as  are  possible 
by  means  of  writing.  Before,  however,  doing 
so  we  cannot  forbear  reference  to  a  quaint 
suggestion  that  we  encountered  in  an  old 
authority  on  the  subject,  whereby  the  human 
voice  was  made  the  medium  of  transmis- 
sion. The  person  desiring  to  send  the  mes- 
sage  was    gravely   instructed   to   breathe    his 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  17 

words  slowly  and  distinctly  into  a  long  tube 
that  was  carefully  and  securely  closed  at 
the  other  end.  So  soon  as  he  had  finished 
all  he  had  to  say,  the  end  into  which  he 
had  spoken  was  promptly  fastened  up,  and 
the  message  was  then  dispatched  to  the 
receiver.  This  latter,  on  obtaining  possession 
of  the  tube,  was  careful  to  open  it  at  the  end 
last  sealed,  as  of  course  it  was  of  great  import- 
ance that  the  words  should  come  out  distinctly 
and  in  the  order  spoken.  If  by  inadvertence 
the  wrong  end  were  opened,  the  operator  was 
warned  that  the  message  would  come  out  in 
inverted  order.  On  thinking  out  this  valuable 
idea  we  cannot  help  deciding  that  the  direc- 
tions given  would  lead  to  just  the  result 
deprecated.  If  we,  for  instance,  plugged  up 
the  farther  end  of  a  railway  tunnel,  ran  a  train 
into  it,  and  then  fastened  up  the  near  end, 
we  should,  on  presently  re-opening  this  end, 
find  that  the  train  would  come  out  backwards. 
However,  this  is  a  mere  detail,  and  a  very  little 

B 


I8  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

experience  would  soon  decide  which  end  of  the 
tube  it  was  best  to  open.  Baron  Munchausen 
seems  to  have  quite  accidentally  hit  upon 
another  curious  property  of  sound,  when  the 
melodies  that  he  had  apparently  hopelessly 
in  hard  frost  endeavoured  to  get  out  of  his 
bugle  flowed  from  it  of  themselves  quite  easily 
when  the  instrument  was  brought  into  a  well- 
warmed  room  at  his  journey's  end. 

A  matter  is  not  necessarily  secret,  of  course, 
just  because  we  or  some  other  people  fail 
to  understand  it.  This  seems  the  barest  of 
truisms  when  once  stated,  but  it  needs  enun- 
ciation nevertheless.  People,  for  instance,  con- 
stantly speak  of  the  Egyptian  hieroglyphics,  as 
Ben  Jon  son  does  on  our  title-page,  as  though 
they  had  some  reserved  and  occult  significance, 
whereas  they  were  but  the  recognised  symbols 
for  conveying  ideas,  recording  history,  and  so 
forth,  of  the  whole  educated  caste  of  the 
nation.  In  the  days  not  so  very  long  ago 
when  tliree-fourths   of  the  people  of  England 


:ir 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  1 9 

could  neither  read  nor  write,  the  epistles  that 
passed  between  the  "  quality,"  and  written  in 
legible  enough  characters  for  those  who  were 
sufficiently  "  scollerds "  to  read  them,  could 
scarcely  be  considered  examples  of  crypto- 
graphy. The  queer  characters  on  a  Chinese 
tea-chest  are  to  most  of  us  Western  people 
merely  meaningless  lines  and  dabs  of  colour, 
but  the  sole  reason  of  their  being  put  there 
was  that  they  might  convey  a  meaning. 
The  Cantonese  or  Amoy  man  who  painted 
them  was  adding  information,  and  had  no 
thought  or  intention  of  bewildering  the  outer 
barbarian  whose  Eugby,  Harrow,  or  board - 
school  training  had  in  this  matter  failed  him. 
The  outward  form  of  the  communication  has 
very  little  to  do  with  it,  but  the  intention 
has  almost  everything  to  do  with  it.  If  we, 
for  instance,  from  a  laudable  desire  to  keep 
up  our  French,  often  talk  it  in  the  family 
circle,  that  is  one  thing ;  but  if  we  drop  into 
it  because  the  servant  is  in  the  room,  and  it 


20  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

is  not  quite  convenient  that  the  details  of  our 
approaching  bankruptcy  should  also  be  dis- 
cussed ten  minutes  afterwards  in  the  kitchen, 
that  is  quite  another.  If  an  English  officer  at 
Aldershot  chose  to  write  out  any  little  message 
to  a  brother  officer  in  English  words,  but 
with  Greek  characters,  he  would  be  considered 
eccentric  or  silly ;  but  such  communications 
passed  in  hundreds  between  British  officers 
during  the  Indian  Mutiny.  An  intercepted 
message  written  in  English  could  have  been 
read  easily  enough  in  every  camp  of  the 
mutineers,  and  they  would  thus  have  become 
possessed  of  valuable  military  information; 
but  this  cryptogamic  use  of  the  Greek  letters 
rendered  such  communications  entirely  value- 
less to  them. 

It  has  been  freely  stated  by  divers  authori- 
ties that  the  earliest  examples  of  cipher- 
writing  may  be  seen  in  the  use  of  the  word 
Sheshach  by  Jeremiah.  He  is  the  only  writer 
who    uses    it,    and   w^hile    a    Hebrew    scholar 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  21 

assures  us  that  the  term  is  meaningless  in 
itself,  it  is  undoubtedly  made  up  by  reversing 
the  letters  that  spell  the  Hebrew  word  for 
Babylon.  If  a  modern  writer  denouncing  the 
wickedness  of  London  thought  it  prudent  to 
refer  to  it  as  Nodnol,  those  who  detected  the 
transposition  of  the  letters  would  have  no 
doubt  of  the  meaning.  Yet  one  cannot  help 
feeling  a  little  hesitation  in  accepting  the 
Sheshach  as  an  archaic  cryptogram.  One 
authority  we  questioned  said  that  there  might 
have  been  a  good  reason  for  disguising  the 
name ;  but  on  going  to  the  fountain-head  and 
reading  the  verse  itself  that  the  prophet  wrote 
over  six  hundred  years  before  the  Christian 
era,  we  find,  "How  is  Sheshach  taken!  and 
how  is  the  praise  of  the  whole  earth  surprised  ! 
How  is  Babylon  become  an  astonishment 
among  the  nations !  "  There  seems  but  little 
reason  for  any  concealment  in  the  first  half 
of  the  verse  when  the  second  half  effectually 
lays  all  open.     Sir  Henry  Rawlinson,  no  mean 


22  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

authority,  does  not  feel  the  accepted  explana- 
tion so  entirely  satisfactory  as  to  render  any 
other  superfluous.  He  states  that  IJr,  the  city 
of  Abraham,  "  might  have  been  read  in  one  of 
the  ancient  dialects  of  Babylon  as  Shishaki," 
and  if  this  be  so  the  transposition  of  letters 
becomes  merely  a  remarkable  coincidence. 
Sheshach  then  stands  for  Ur,  the  ancient 
capital,  and  Babel  or  Babylon  for  the  then 
modern  one,  and  the  prophet  may  thus  be 
taken  as  referring  to  the  whole  national  life 
from  its  birth  in  lowly  Ur  of  the  Ohaldees  to 
the  day  when  he  wrote  of  the  great  city  of 
Babylon  his  words  of  warning  and  reproof; 
but  here  again  on  going  to  the  fountain  head, 
we  find  the  whole  reference  to  be  in  the 
present  tense.  Eawlinson,  too,  only  tells  of 
what  "might  have  been,"  and  we  certainly 
seem  to  need  a  firmer  foundation  than  this 
possibility.  The  two  alternatives  before  us 
are  equally  perplexing.  "Would  any  writer 
be    so    cautious    and    reticent    one    moment, 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  23 

SO  plainly  outspoken  the  next,  if  liis  object 
all  through  was  prudent  suppression  of  a 
name  ?  On  the  other  hand,  if  the  two  names 
refer  to  two  entirely  different  places — as,  for 
example,  Winchester  and  London — is  it  not 
a  most  extraordinary  coincidence  that  the 
letters  in  the  name  of  each  city  are  precisely 
the  same,  and  that  while  the  one  has  them 
in  one  order,  the  other  has  them  exactly 
reversed  ?  What  proportion,  according  to  the 
law  of  chances,  of  millions  to  one  would  be 
necessary  to  express  the  likelihood  of  such  a 
transposition  occurring?  It  was  absolutely 
necessary  to  refer  to  this  Sheshach  question, 
since,  as  we  have  stated,  this  passage  in  the 
Bible  is  claimed  by  some  enthusiastic  crypto- 
logists  and  commentators  as  the  earliest 
example  of  a  cipher,  and  now,  perforce,  we 
can  but  leave  it  to  the  reader  to  derive  such 
benefit  and  comfort  from  the  matter  as  he 
may. 

This    simple    reversal    of    the   alphabet,    A 


24  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

representing  Z,  B  being  the  equivalent  of  Y, 
etc.,  is  far  too  evident  to  have  any  crypto- 
grammic  vahie,  as  the  changed  value  of  the 
letters  is  very  quickly  perceived.  The  his- 
torian Suetonius  tells  us  that  Julius  Ceesar, 
in  forwarding  his  dispatches,  changed  the 
positions  of  the  letters  by  four  places,  making 
D  stand  for  A,  P  for  M,  and  so  on ;  but  this, 
though  a  trifle  better,  was  still  the  most 
elementary  work.  Scaliger,  we  see,  in  refer- 
ring to  it,  styles  it  a  "pure  absurdity*';  yet 
one  repeatedly  finds  in  the  "  agony  column  " 
communications  based  on  this  or  some  equally 
simple  shifting  on  of  the  letters. 

Polybius  tells  us  that  ^neas  Tacitus  had 
collected  together  twenty  different  kinds  of 
secret  writing,  some  of  them  having  been  in 
use  before  his  time,  while  others  he  devised 
himself.  Herodotus  mentions  that  one 
Demaratus,  a  commander  of  the  forces, 
wrote  his  communications  on  wooden  tablets, 
and    then    had    them    smoothly    coated    over 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  25 

with  wax,  as  though  they  were  merely  blank 
surfaces  for  the  stylus.  Those  who  received 
them,  and  who  were  in  the  secret,  removed 
this  upper  coating,  and  the  message  stood 
revealed.  But  this,  it  will  be  noted,  was 
scarcely  secret  writing,  any  more  than  a 
letter  fastened  down  in  an  envelope  to-day 
becomes  secret  writing  by  the  process.  It 
is  but  hidden  writing,  and  when  the  wax  of 
the  tablet  or  the  covering  surface  of  the 
envelope  are  removed  the  writing  has  lost  all 
its  secrecy.  Most  of  the  ancient  methods  of 
secret  communication  were  of  this  nature. 
One  plan  gravely  commended  was  to  shave  a 
slave's  head,  and  then  to  write  upon  it  any 
message  one  might  wish  to  send.  "When  the 
hair  was  sufficiently  grown  to  conceal  the 
matter,  the  man  was  dispatched  to  the  person 
with  whom  it  was  desired  to  communicate, 
and  he  in  turn  shaved  the  victim  and  read  off 
the  message.  In  these  days  when  fifty  miles 
an  hour  is  considered  far  too  slow  for  business. 


26  CR  YPTOGRAPHY 

and  when  we  read  at  breakfast  in  our  news- 
paper tlie  details  of  the  insurrection  that 
broke  out  yesterday  in  Central  Africa,  such  a 
method  of  communication  would  be  voted  al- 
together too  dilatory,  and  we  cannot  help 
feeling — such- is  the  force  of  nineteenth-century 
habit — that  even  in  those  good  old  times,  when 
nobody  seemed  to  be  at  all  in  a  hurry,  the 
message  that  could  afford  to  wait  while  a  new 
crop  of  hair  was  growing  could  not  have  been 
of  any  great  urgency,  or  they  would  surely  | 
have  found  a  less  leisurely  way  of  dispatch- 
ing it. 

Charlemagne  kept  up  a  private  correspon- 
dence in  cipher- writing,  and  the  secret  alpha- 
bet used  by  Alfred  the  Great  may  still  be 
seen  in  the  Bodleian  Library.  We  also,  dur- 
ing the  fifth  century,  find  Pharamond  and 
other  reigning  princes  utilising  various  more 
or  less  satisfactory  systems  of  cryptography, 
but  in  those  early  days  those  who  could  either 
write  or  read  with  any  ease  were  but  few  in 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  27 

number.  "When  we  come  to  the  Middle  Ages 
a  perfect  epidemic  ran  round  Europe,  and 
cryptograpliia,  or,  as  it  was  sometimes  termed, 
polygraphia  or  steganographia,  had  its  en- 
thusiastic votaries  in  every  land.  Those  who 
care  for  the  archaeological  side  of  the  subject 
may  refer  to  the  writings  of  Palatino,  dating 
1540,  of  Bellaso  in  1553,  and  of  Glanburg  in 
1560.  Should  this  not  have  damped  their 
ardour,  they  may  next  take  a  course  of  Porta, 
Trithemius,  Cardanus,  Walchius,  Bibliander, 
Schottus,  Selenus,  Herman  Hugo,  Niceron, 
Oaspi,  Tridenci,  Comiers,  La  Fin,  Dalgarno, 
Buxtorff,  Wolfgang,  and  Falconer.  Even  then, 
if  they  so  wish  it,  are  open  to  them  the  writ- 
ings of  Eidel,  Soro,  Amman,  Breitkampt, 
Conradus,  De  Yaines,  Lucatello,  Kircher,  and 
not  a  few  others ;  while  for  those  who  do  not 
care  to  dig  their  knowledge  out  of  such  dusty 
worm-eaten  tomes  William  Blair  is  the  very 
thing,  though  we  would  fain  hope  that  ere  we, 
and    they,   reach    the   last   of    these    present 


28  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

pages    they  will   feel   tliat  they   have  derived 
thence  as  much  eDlightenment  as  they  need. 

As  many  of  these  mediaeval  authors  had  a 
great  knack  of  conveying,  with  scant  or  no 
acknowledgment,  the  labour  of  others  into 
their  own  store,  there  would  be  little  profit 
in  referring  at  any  length  to  their  works ;  we 
will  therefore  select  but  two,  Trithemius  and 
Porta,  for  any  comment. 

Trithemius,  the  first  in  time  of  these  two 
old  writers,  was  an  able  Benedictine.  He 
was  Abbot  of  Spanheim,  and  his  was  the 
first  really  elaborate  treatise  on  cryptogram- 
mic  writing.  The  first  printed  edition  was 
published  in  Frankfort  in  the  year  1606,  and 
a  copy  of  this  is  preserved  in  the  Bodleian 
Library ;  a  second  edition  was  issued  from  the 
same  press  two  years  later.  Its  title  is  of 
the  elaborate  character  that  is  characteristic 
of  books  of  that  period.  "  SteganograpMa : 
hoc  est  ars  i^er  occvltam  Scriptvram  animi  svi 
voluntatem  ahsentihvs  aperiendi  certa  :    avthore 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  29 

reverendissimo  et  darissimo  vivo  Joanne  Tru 
fheniio,  Ahhate  Sjpanheimensi  et  Magice  Natur- 
aUs  Magistro  perfedissimo,^*  His  method  was 
a  somewhat  curious  one,  as  he  compiled 
many  folios  full  of  devout  sentences  through 
the  use  of  which  quite  other  and  mundane 
matters  could  be  conveyed.  The  result  was 
a  vast  mass  of  misdirected  energy.  Unfor- 
tunately, to  these  he  added  a  number  of  extra- 
ordinary characters,  which  he  designated  spiri- 
tus  diurni  and  spiritus  nocturni,  the  result 
being  that  lie  was  accused  of  dabbling  in  the 
black  art  and  holding  converse  with  demons. 
He  was  therefore  brought  to  trial  for  these 
magical  incantations,  and  had  a  very  narrow 
escape  of  being  burnt.  He  had  also  the  misfor- 
tune to  incur  the  lavish  abuse  of  Jerome 
Cardan,  himself  the  author  of  a  system  of 
cryptography,  and  was  by  him  relentlessly 
attacked  and  hounded  down. 

Dr.  Dee,  who  was  himself  under  the   ban 
as  a  follower  of  divers  uncanny  arts  that  were 


30  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

supposed  to  bring  him  into  closer  relation 
Avitli  demons  tlian  was  held  to  be  at  all  justi- 
fiable, was  a  great  admirer  of  the  work  of 
Trithemius.  He  was  often  sent  abroad  on 
more  or  less  secret  service  by  the  Ministers  of 
Queen  EHzabeth,  and  we  find  him  writing  from 
Antwerp  on  February  16,  1563,  to  Sir  William 
Cecil  for  permission  to  extend  his  stay  in  that 
city.  He  was  mainly  desirous  of  doing  so, 
as  he  was  arranging  for  the  publication  at 
Antwerp  of  a  book  of  his  own,  the  Monas 
Hierogli/phica,  issued  in  the  following  year ; 
but  as  his  private  affairs  were  scarcely  a 
sufficiently  good  reason  why  he  should  be 
maintained  there  at  the  expense  of  the  State, 
he  adds  that  he  is  there  able  to  gather  much 
together  that  would  be  of  gain  to  the  nation.^ 
Amongst  other  reasons  for  staying  on,  he 
writes :  '*'  Allready  I  have  purchased  one 
boke,    for    wch   a    Thowsand    Orownes    have 

^  III  reference  to  this  appeal  of  Dr.  Dee,  Cecil's  memor- 
andum is  extant  stating  that  the  applicant's  time  beyond 
the  sea  had  been  well  spent. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  3I 

been  by  others  offred  and  yet  could  not  be 
obteyned.  A  boke  for  wliicli  many  a  lerned 
man  liath  long  sowght  and  dayley  yet  doth 
seeke :  Whose  use  is  greater  than  the  fame 
therof  is  spred:  The  name  therof  to  you  is 
not  unknowne:  The  title  is  on  this  Wise — 
Steganographia  Joannis  Tritemij  :  wherof  in 
both  the  editions  of  his  Polygraphia  mention 
is  made,  and  in  his  epistles,  and  in  sundry 
other  mens  bokes  :  A  boke  for  your  honor, 
or  a  Prince,  so  meet,  so  needfull  and  commo- 
dious, as  in  humayne  knowledge  none  can  be 
meeter  or  more  behopefull.  Of  this  boke 
the  one  half,  with  contynuall  Labor  and  watch 
the  most  part  of  X  dayes  have  I  copyed  oute  : 
And  now  T  stand  at  the  Courtesye  of  a  noble- 
man of  Hungarie  for  writing  furth  the  rest: 
who  hath  promised  me  leave  therto  after  he 
shall  perceyve  that  I  may  remayne  by  him 
longer  (with  the  leave  of  my  prince)  to 
pleasure  him  also  with  such  points  of  Science 
as    at    my    hands   he   requireth.     Thys   boke, 


32  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

eytlier  as  I  now  have  yt,  or  hereafter  shall 
have  yt,  fi^Hy  whole  and  p'fit  (yf  it  pleas  you 
to  accept  my  present)  I  give  unto  your  honor 
as  the  most  precyous  juell  that  I  have  yet  of 
other  mens  travailes  recovered." 

The  account  is  not  quite  a  clear  one,  as  he 
declares  that  he  has  bought  the  book,  though 
he  does  not  say  that  he  himself  gave  a  thou- 
sand crowns  for  it,  and  yet  he  appears  to 
have  copied  it  by  the  courtesy  of  the  noble- 
man possessing  it,  and  who  certainly  does 
not  seem  to  have  sold  it  to  him.  From  the 
price  Dee  puts  on  the  book,  it  is  evident  that 
it  was  a  manuscript  copy.  The  book  was 
long  kept  from  the  knowledge  of  the  general 
public,  the  first  printed  copy  not  being  issued 
until  forty-three  years  after  this  letter  of 
Dee  to  Cecil.  The  direct  gift  to  Cecil  we 
may  perhaps,  without  being  wanting  in 
charity,  regard  as  a  gentle  bribe  to  be  al- 
lowed to  stay  on  at  Antwerp  for  the  ad- 
vancement of  his  private  business  ends. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  33 

Batista  Porta,  a  Neapolitan  writer,  com- 
piled five  books  on  ciphers,  "  lies  Notes 
occultes  des  lettreSy'^  tliat  were  published  in 
Strasbourg  in  the  year  1606,  and  he  also 
devotes  one  of  the  "  Bookes  "  of  his  "  Natural 
Majick"  to  the  art  of  invisible  writing.  The 
edition  before  us  as  we  write  is  dated  1658, 
the  title  page  stating  that  the  book  was 
*' printed  by  Thomas  Young  and  Samuel 
Speed,  and  are  to  be  sold  at  the  Three 
Pigeons,  and  at  the  Angel  in  St.  Paul's 
Churchyard.'*  In  this  volume,  divided  into 
twenty  sections,  or  books  as  he  calls  them, 
are  "  set  forth  all  the  Kiches  and  Delights  of 
the  Natural  Sciences,"  and  the  result  is  a 
strange  medley  indeed.  His  first  book  deals 
with  "  the  Causes  of  Wonderful  things,"  a 
sufiiciently  extensive  subject  in  •  itself  and 
including  "  the  Nature  of  Magick,"  the  influ- 
ence of  the  stars,  and  so  forth.  Other  sec- 
tions deal  with  the  transmutation  of  metals, 
the    wonders   of    the    load-stone,    the   beauti- 

c 


34  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

fjing  of  women,  etc.,  and  the  sixteenth  con- 
cerns itself  with  "invisible  writing."  His 
last  book  is  "  of  the  Chaos,"  and  here  we  find 
a  promiscuous  mass  of  matter  that  either 
would  not  fit  in  happily  in  any  of  the  other 
books,  or  which  he  happened  to  have  over- 
looked, or  upon  which  he  had  gained  fuller 
information  than  when  dealt  with  in  its 
original  position.  This  chaotic  section  in- 
cludes such  diverse  matters  as  how  to  make 
foul  water  drinkable,  and  how  to  distil  it 
from  the  air,  the  art  of  altering  one's  face  so 
that  one's  friends  are  deceived,  how  to  make 
stones  grow  of  themselves,  how  to  make  an 
instrument  whereby  we  may  hear  sounds  at 
a  great  distance,  how  to  detect  frauds  in 
impostors,  and  much  else  of  more  or  less 
chaotic  interest  and  value. 

The  sixteenth  book,  "  wherein  are  handled 
secrets  and  undiscovered  notes,"  commences 
with  the  statement  that  *^  there  are  two  sorts 
of    secret   marks,    which    they    vulgarly    call 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  35 

syfers :  one  of  visible  marks,  and  is  worbliy  of 
a  treatise  by  itself ;  anotlier  of  secret  marks, 
whereof  I  liave  attempted  to  say  sometliing  in 
this  pi^esent  Volume,  and  what  are  the  con- 
sequents thereof,  for  the  use  of  great  Men  and 
Princes,  that  take  care  for  things  absent,  and 
write  to  some  man  that  knows  the  invention. 
I  shall  set  down  some  examples  plainly :  but 
these  things  and  the  consequences  of  them 
must  be  faithfully  concealed,  lest  by  growing 
common  amongst  ordinary  peoplew  they  be  dis- 
respected." Our  old  author  here  clearly  felt 
the  difficulty  of  the  position  he  had  got  himself 
into  ;  on  the  one  hand  thinking  to  impart 
much  curious  and  useful  knowledge,  and  on 
the  other  hand  in  the  act  of  doing  so  feeling 
its  publication  a  contradiction  vitiating  all  his 
labour.  Even  Natural  Magick  fails  to  show 
how  the  frank  exposition  and  the  careful 
concealment  of  secret  matters  can  be  simul- 
taneously accomplished.  This  doubtless,  too, 
was  one  potent  reason  why  the  folios  of  Tri- 


36  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

themius  remained   in    manuscript    some    fifty 
years. 

Porta's  division  of  his  subject  into  visible 
and  secret  marks  looks  at  first  sight  a  little 
puzzling,  for  unless  visible  marks  carry  a 
secret  significance  they  are  in  this  connexion 
valueless.  We  soon  find,  hoAvever,  on  reading 
las  book,  that  what  he  means  by  visible  marks 
is  the  use  of  letters,  figures,  or  other  signs 
that  are  evident  enough  to  all  beholders 
though  theii*  significance  is  unknown,  and 
these,  as  he  says,  are  worthy  of  a  treatise  to 
themselves.  In  the  present  work  he  deals 
almost  entirely  with  communications  that  are 
secret  through  their  invisibility,  until  some 
chemical  application,  the  action  of  heat  or  of 
light,  or  other  external  cause,  bring  them  to 
view.  He,  in  fact,  begins  his  first  ch'apter 
with  the  words :  "  There  are  many  and  almost 
infinite  ways  to  write  things  of  necessity,  that 
the  Characters  shall  not  be  seen,  unless  you 
dip  them  into  waters,  or  put  them  near  the 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  3? 

fire,  or   rub  them  with   dust,  or  smeer   them 


over." 


His  first  recipe  is  a  double-barrelled  one. 
It  is  to  be  employed  "  if  you  desire  that  letters 
not  seen  may  be  read,  or  such  as  are  seen  may 
be  hid."  This  is  a  very  artful  state  of  things 
to  briug  about.  The  enemy  or  other  un- 
authorized person  into  whose  hands  the  paper 
fell  would  be  put  off  the  scent  by  reading  a 
communication  that  was  of  no  value  or  sig- 
nificance to  them,  while  the  person  to  whom 
it  was  really  sent  w^ould  take  steps  first  to 
remove  the  visible  writing,  and  then  to  make 
a  second  communication,  written  between  the 
lines  of  the  first,  tell  out  its  story  by  the  ap- 
plication of  a  second  preparation.  The  pro- 
cedure is  as  follows :  "  Let  Vitriol  soak  in 
Boyling  water :  when  it  is  dissolved,  strain  it 
so  long  till  the  water  grow  clear :  with  that 
liquor  write  upon  paper  :  when  they  are  dry 
they  are  not  seen.  Moreover,  grinde  burnt 
straw  with  Vinegar :  and  what  you  will  write 


38  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

in  tlie  spaces  between  tlie  former  lines,  de- 
scribe at  large.  Then  boyl  sowre  Galls  in 
white  Wine,  wet  a  spunge  in  the  liquor :  and 
when  yon  have  need,  wipe  it  upon  the  paper 
gently,  and  wet  the  letters  so  long  until  the 
native  black  colour  disappear,  but  the  former 
colour,  that  was  not  seen,  may  be  made  ap- 
parent. Now  I  will  show  in  what  liquors 
paper  must  be  soaked  to  make  letters  to  be 
seen.  As  I  said.  Dissolve  Vitriol  in  water : 
then  powder  Galls  finely,  and  soak  them  in 
water :  let  them  stay  there  twenty-four  hours  : 
filtre  them  through  a  linen  cloth,  or  something 
else,  that  may  make  the  water  clear,  and  make 
letters  upon  the  paper  that  you  desire  to  have 
concealed :  send  it  to  your  Friend  absent : 
when  you  would  have  them  appear,  dip  them 
in  the  first  liquor,  and  the  letters  will  presently 
be  seen."  The  materials,  it  may  be  noted,  are 
fairly  readily  procurable :  an  important  point 
to  consider. 

Porta  also  suggests    that  we  may   dissolve 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  39 

alum  ill  water  and  write  with  it  upon  linen 
and  the  like,  declaring  that  when  this  writing 
is  dry  it  will  be  invisible.  When  you  would 
render  it  visible,  it  will  suffice  to  soak  the 
sheet  or  napkin  in  water.  The  fabric  will 
appear  darker  where  it  has  not  been  touched 
by  the  alum  solution,  so  that  the  message  will 
appear  in  letters  of  white.  After  divers  other 
prescriptions,  in  which  litharge,  citron-juice, 
goat's  fat,  juniper,  and  various  other  ingre- 
dients figure,  he  winds  up  his  first  section, 
"  On  how  a  writing  dip'd  in  divers  Liquors 
may  be  read,"  by  the  assertion,  "  there  are 
many  such  arts,  too  tedious  to  relate,"  and  he 
then  proceeds  to  his  next  section,  how  letters 
may  be  made  visible  by  the  action  of  heat. 

"  If  you  write,"  he  tells  us,  "  with  the  juice 
of  Citrons,  Oranges,  Onyons,  or  almost  any 
sharp  things,  if  you  make  it  hot  at  the  fire, 
their  acrimony  is  presently  discovered  :  for 
they  are  undigested  juices,  whereas  they  are 
detected  by  the  heat  of  the  fire,  and  then  they 


4o  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

sliow  fortli  those  colours  tliat  they  would  show 
if  they  were  rq^e.  If  you  write  with  a  sowre 
Grape  that  would  be  black,  or  with  Cervices :  ^ 
when  you  hold  them  to  the  fire  they  are  con- 
cocted, and  will  give  the  same  colour  they 
would  in  due  time  give  upon  the  tree,  when 
they  were  ripe.  Juice  of  Cherries,  added  to 
Calamus,  will  make  a  green  :  to  sowbread  a 
red :  so  divers  juices  of  Fruits  will  show  divers 
colours  by  the  fire.  By  these  means  Maids 
sending  and  receiving  love-letters,  escape  from 
those  that  have  charge  of  them.  There  is  also 
a  kind  of  Salfc  called  Ammoniac :  this  powdred 
and  mingled  with  water,  will  write  white 
letters,  and  can  hardly  bo  distinguished  from 
the  paper,  but  hold  them  to  the  fire,  and  they 
will  shew  black." 

Porta  has  also  a  suggestion  for  making 
communications    that    cannot    be    read    until 

^  The  fruits  of  tlie  Service-tree,  Pyrus  torminalis,  of  a 
greenisli-brown  colour,  and  of  rough  acid  flavour  until 
they  are  mellowed  by  frost. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  4 1 

tlie  paper  be  burnt  upon  wliicli  they  are 
made.  He  arrives  at  this  in  the  following 
fashion :  "  Take  the  sharpest  Vinegar  and  the 
white  of  an  Egg :  in  these  steep  Quick-silver 
and  stir  it  well :  and  with  that  mixture  make 
Letters  upon  the  paper :  burn  the  paper  in  the 
fire,  and  the  letters  will  remain  unburnt." 
The  result  of  this  will  be  that  the  paper  will 
be  black  and  the  letters  white.  This  sounds 
better  in  theory  than  it  would  probably  work 
out  in  practice.  We  are  all  familiar  with  the 
fact  that  even  when  a  letter  written  in  or- 
dinary ink  is  burnt,  we  may  often  still  be  able 
to  read  on  its  charred  surface  portions  of  the 
writing,  but  we  know  also  that  the  act  of 
burning  twists  and  curls  the  paper  up  so  that 
much  of  the  writing  is  out  of  our  sight,  while 
the  whole  thing  is  so  brittle  that  a  touch  may 
break  it  up,  and  any  attempt  at  straightening 
out  the  sheet  would  be  wholly  futile. 

Porta  has  various  ideas  as  to  developing  in- 
visible writing  by  means  of  dust  or  soot;  by 


42  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Avriting  wibli  vinegar,  gum  solution,  tlie  milk  of 
tlie  fig  tree  and  various  other  ingredients,  and 
then  rendering  the  message  visible  by  rubbing 
these  substances  upon  it.  The  milk  of  the  fig 
tree  was  not  readily  accessible  as  we  were  writ- 
ing these  lines,  so  of  its  efficacy  we  can  say 
nothing,  but  a  letter  which  we  forthwith  pro- 
ceeded to  write  with  vinegar  at  once  became 
clearly  legible  when  soot  was  rubbed  gently 
over  its  surface.  Our  au.thor  tells  us  that 
"  there  is  also  an  Art  that  one  would  not  imagine 
to  write  upon  Chrystal ;  for  being  all  transpar- 
ent no  man  will  dream  of  it,  and  the  letters 
may  lie  hid  therein.  Do  it  thus.  Dissolve  Gum 
Arabick  in  water,  or  Gum  Tragacanth,  that  it 
may  be  cleer ;  and  when  it  is  well  dissolved,  it 
will  not  foul  the  Chrystal  if  you  write  upon  it 
or  upon  a  Gup  or  Glass,  for  when  the  letters  are 
dry  they  are  invisible.  No  man  will  imagine  it, 
if  a  cup  be  sent  to  one  in  prison,  or  a  Glass  full 
of  wine  :  when  he  would  see  the  letters,  rub 
burnt  straw  or  paper  upon  it,  and  the  letters 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  43 

will  presently  be  seen."  This  also  we  brought 
to  the  test  of  experiment,  writing  upon  a  glass 
bottle  with  a  solution  of  gum-arabic.  The 
writing  when  dry  was  absolutely  invisible.  On 
rubbing  burnt  paper  over  the  writing  we  were 
unable  to  get  any  satisfactory  result,  but  on 
wiping  this  off  and  using  soot  instead  we  at 
once  got  the  wording  very  sharply  defined  in 
black  on  the  transparent  glass,  the  experiment 
being  entirely  successful.  At  the  same  time 
there  seem  to  be  practical  difficulties ;  one  can 
hardly  imagine  a  prisoner  saying,  "  Would  you 
kindly  oblige  me  with  a  pinch  of  soot  or  a 
handful  of  straw  and  a  match  ?  "  At  all 
events  we  can  hardly  imagine  his  getting 
them. 

A  curious  side-light  and  reference  to  "  the 
good  old  days  "  is  shown  again  in  Porta's  in- 
structions as  to  how  secret  messages  may  be 
sent  by  means  of  eggs,  for  he  tells  us  that 
"  Eggs  are  not  stopt  by  the  Papal  Inquisition, 
and  no   fraud   is   suspected   to   be   in  them." 


44  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Hence  prisoners  niiglit  perchance  receive  eggs 
from  tlieir  friends,  and  with  them  messages 
from  the  outside  world.  However  this  may  be, 
it  is  at  least  a  pleasant  picture.  One  has  al- 
ways so  imagined  the  victims  of  the  Inquisition 
going  melancholy  mad  in  dripping  dungeons, 
or  shrieking  at  each  turn  of  the  rack  and 
thumb-screw,  that  the  idea  of  the  man  sitting 
down  in  peace  to  his  lunch,  and  having  a  new- 
laid  Qgg  with  it,  comes  as  quite  a  welcome 
surprise. 

Porta  is  also  great  on  the  subject  of  devis- 
ing means  whereby  written  characters,  freely 
legible  at  first,  might  presently  disappear;  but 
one  can  scarcely  imagine  such  a  thing  as  being 
of  any  great  value.  It  might  at  times  be  an 
advantage  if  promises  made  on  the  eve  of  an 
election,  the  former  sentiments  of  recreant  and 
turncoat  politicians,  or  the  fervent  protesta- 
tions of  the  lover  lavishly  poured  out  ere  the 
breach  of  promise  action  had  even  been  deemed 
a  possibility,  could  somehow  be  forgotten ;  and 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  45 

tliere  might  of  course  be  occasions  when  some 
damning  document  might  be  laid  up  in  the 
archives  of  the  enemy  for  use  at  some  critical 
moment,  and  when  its  production  after  all  as  a 
blank  sheet  of  paper  might  well  be  the  differ- 
ence between  a  traitor's  death  and  safe  deliver- 
ance from  the  noose,  the  firing  party  at  ten 
paces,  or  the  convict  hulk.  Ordinarily,  how- 
ever, when  one  has  mastered  the  meaning  of  a 
communication,  there  are  many  safer  and  more 
expeditious  ways  of  disposing  of  it  than  trust- 
ing to  the  corroding  or  paling  action  of  any 
chemical  to  obliterate  its  secrets.  In  the 
seclusion  of  the  diplomatist's  study  the  glowing 
hearth,  or  in  the  bustle  of  the  bivouac  the 
roaring  camp  fire,  will  expeditiously  enough 
reduce  to  ashes  any  paper  that  has  fulfilled  its 
purpose. 

In  like  spirit  of  adverse  criticism  we  would 
deal  with  the  reverse  of  this,  "that  invisible 
letters  after  some  time  shall  become  visible  and 
show  themselves."     We  are  told  that  "  if  one 


46  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

write  with  juice  of  Citrons  or  Orilnges  on 
Copper  or  Brass,  and  leave  tins  on  for  twenty 
days  tlie  letters  will  appear  green  upon  the 
place ;  the  same  may  be  done  many  other  ways, 
namely,  by  dissolving  Salt  Ammoniac  in  water, 
and  writing  with  it  upon  Brass,  the  place  will 
sooner  appear  of  verdigreese  colour."  It  is 
sufficiently  evident  that  it  is  rarely  indeed  that 
a  delay  of  twenty  or  any  other  number  of  days 
is   a   desideratum.     One   ordinarily  desires   to 


Fig.  1. 


know  at  once  any  communication  that  any  one 
sees  fit  to  make  to  us,  and  should  especially 
desire  to  do  so  if  we  knew  that  the  secrecy  and 
mystery  attaching  to  it  was  an  indication  of  its 
grave  importance. 

The  two  or  three  examples  that  Porta  gives 
"  of  letters   on   divers    things    which,    though 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  47 

tliej  be  visible  yet  tbe  Eeader  will  be  deceived 
by  tlieir  secret  device/'  are  of  no  great  value. 
One  of  his  hints  is  to  write  on  parchment,  and 
then  put  it  to  the  fire  or  candle,  when  it  will 
crumple  up  and  in  the  contorted  state  of  the 
parchment  the  written  matter  will  be  so  twisted 
about  that  it  will  be  unreadable.  The  harsh- 
ness of  the  fire-tried  material  upon  which  it  is 
inscribed  will  resist  any  attempt  at  forcible 
flattening  out,  so  that  even  if  we  detect  the 
presence  of  a  communication  it  is  not  get-at- 
able.  But  "  if  one  desires  to  read  what  is  in  it 
let  him  lay  it  on  moyst  places  or  sprinkle  it 
gently  with  water,  and  it  will  be  dilated  again 
and  all  the  wrinkles  will  be  gone,  and  it  will 
appear  as  it  did  at  first,  that  you  may  read  the 
letters  upon  it  without  any  hindrance." 

Porta  also  refers  to  the  ancient  expedient, 
ascribed  to  Archimedes  and  mentioned  by 
Plutarch  and  other  ancient  authors,  of  wHting 
on  a  strip  of  paper  wrapped  round  a  stick. 
T\7o   sticks  of   equal    diameters  must  be  sup- 


48 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


plied,  one  being  held  by  the  one  correspondent 
and  the  second  by  the  other.  A  long  thin 
strip  of  paper  must  now  be  wrapped  spirally 


Fig.  2. 


round  one  of  these  cylinders  so  that  the  edges 
are  just  in  contact  throughout  its  length,  and 
on  these  edges,  so  that  a  portion  of  each  letter 


LAI  Ltl     IVIL    iUUlM 
rv^rcT  K/ir  cnnM 


Fig.  3. 


comes  on  each  side,  the  required  communica- 
tion is  written.  The  paper  is  then  unrolled 
and  forwarded  to  the  holder  of  the  second 
stick,  and  he,  on  rolling  the  strip  around  this. 


OR  CIPHER- IVklTJNG  4.^ 

is  able  to  read  the  message  with  great  facility. 
The  theory  is  that  no  one  would  take  any 
notice  of  these  marks  on  the  edges  of  the 
paper,  but  on  putting  the  matter  to  the  test  of 
experiment  we  found  no  difficulty,  without 
any  wrapping  round  stick  or  ruler,  in  reading 
the  message  that  we  had  previously  written. 
Half  of  each  letter  is  seen,  and  that  is  quite 
sufficient  to  serve  as  a  clue.  If  any  of  our 
readers  like  to  test  this  statement  for  them- 
selves, they  will  readily  find  that  if  they  place  a 
piece  of  blank  paper  along  any  of  the  lines  of 


[XPCCTMCSOON-r 


Fig.  4. 

this  printed  page  so  that  half  of  each  letter  is 
hidden  the  remaining  half  quite  suffices  for  its 
identification. 

The   message  we   wrote   was,   "  Expect  me 
soon."     Fig.    1    shows    the    spirally   wrapped 

D 


50  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

strip  of  paper  and  the  message  written  on 
its  edges.  Fig.  3  represents  tlie  strip  wlien 
unrolled  from  the  pencil  and  flattened  out 
ready  for  dispatch;  while  Fig.  2  shows  how 
the  message  would  look  if  the  receiver,  not 
knowing  that  a  pencil  had  to  be  employed, 
tried  wrapping  it  round  a  ruler.     Fig.  3  has  a 


■|VOr  BE/ABLE/.. 
TliiVDTHlS 

Fig.  5. 

decidedly  tell-tale  appearance,  anyway ;  but  if 
any  unauthorized  person  into  whose  hands 
this  strip  came  would  just  take  the  trouble 
to  divide  it  in  half  lengthwise,  and  place,  as 
in  Fig.  4,  the  two  lettered  edges  together, 
the  message  is  at  once  as  legible  as  any 
orthodox  rewinding  round  a  pencil  could 
make  it» 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  5 1 

A  very  mucli  better  way  of  work- 
ing this   spiral    paper    metliod    is   to      ^V 
write    the    message,    not     along    the      7  V 
edges,    but     right    across   the    strips      U\> 
themselves.     Having  wound  our  strip      ^9)^* 
of  paper   round  our  ruler,    we   wrote      <v\\ 
as    follows    upon    it :    "  Get    another 
roller  the  same  size,  or  you  will  not 
be  able  to  read  this  communication." 
The  appearance  of  our  message-bearing 
sta:ff   may   be    seen   in    Fig.   5,   while 
Fig.  6   shows    a    portion  of   the  strip 
as  it  looked  when  unwound  and  ready 
for  sending   off  to  our  correspondent. 
It  will  at  once  be  seen  how  far  more 
puzzling  this  is  than  the  strip  shown 
in  Fig.  3. 

Some  of  the  material  we  find  in 
Porta's  chapters  can  scarcely  be  con- 
sidered to  come  within  the  category 
of  "invisible  writing"  at  all,  since 
the  methods    he    adopts    are    akin   to 


A? 

Fig.  6. 


52  CR  yPTOGRAPU  Y 

the  ordinary  letter  put  in  an  envelope  that 
we  have  already  cited.  He  tells,  for  in- 
stance, how  a  communication  was  once  sent 
within  a  loaf,  and  in  another  case  in  the 
interior  of  a  dead  hare ;  how  others,  again, 
have  safely  brought  letters  concealed  in  their 
girdles,  beneath  the  soles  of  their  feet,  or  in 
their  scabbards  or  quivers ;  how  pigeons  may 
be  used  as  messengers,^  or  intelligence  shot 
into  camp  or  fortress  by  arrows  or  guns.  He 
quotes  numerous  instances  of  this  sort  of 
thing  from  ancient  writers  ;  from  Theophras- 
tus,  Africanus,  Herodotus,  Ovid,  Ca3sar,  Pliny, 
and  others. 

He  does  not  forget  to  refer  to  the  slave 
with  shaven  head,  but  he  also  recognises 
that  it  may  oftentimes  be  desirable  that  an 
underling  conveying  a  message  should  be  in 
ignorance   of  the  fact  that   he   is  being  thus 


^  A  great  use  was  made  of  pigeons  as  messengers  daring 
the  Franco-German  war,  and  the  pigeon-loft  of  to-daj 
is  as  much  an  item  of  war  strength  as  a  Maxim  gun. 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  53 

employed.  Had  he  this  knowledge,  he  might 
possibly  desert  to  the  enemy,  or  be  filled 
with  such  exaltation  of  spirit  at  the  import- 
ance of  his  mission  as  to  betray  himself  and 
awaken  suspicion.  If  he  fell  into  the  hands 
of  the  enemy,  he  might  be  tempted  by  fair 
promises,  or  affrighted  by  threats,  to  reveal 
his  mission  ;  whereas,  if  he  were  unconscious 
of  it,  his  whole  manner  would  be  so  frankly 
guileless  as  to  avert  suspicion,  and  he  would 
much  more  probably  pass  on  his  way  unchal- 
lenged. He  was,  therefore,  given  no  letter 
to  conceal;  nothing  was  handed  to  him  to 
excite  his  interest  or  awaken  his  suspicions; 
but  his  food  was  drugged,  and,  while  he  was 
under  the  influence  of  an  opiate,  his  own 
broad  back  was  the  surface  utilised  as  the 
sheet  whereon  to  inscribe  the  message  re- 
quired to  be  transmitted.  This  method  is  re- 
ferred to  by  Porta,  but  it  dates  back  far  into 
ancient  history, — Ovid,  for  instance,  alluding 
to  it. 


54  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Speaking  in  a  general  way,  but  at  the 
same  time  as  the  outcome  of  considerable  ex- 
periment, we  should  be  inclined  to  say  that 
the  various  compounds  suggested  by  Porta 
and  many  other  writers  as  inks,  invisible 
until  developed  by  the  action  of  light,  or  of 
heat,  or  the  washing  over  of  another  solu- 
tion, are  of  no  great  practical  value ;  while 
the  materials,  though  in  most  cases  common 
enough,  may  not  always  be  forthcoming. 
The  commander  of  an  advanced  post  in  a 
hostile  land,  who  was  desirous  of  communi- 
cating with  the  base  of  operations,  or  with 
the  leader  of  a  relief  party,  might  be  a  thou- 
sand miles  from  the  nearest  place  where 
chloride  of  cobalt,  for  example,  was  pro- 
curable. 

A  great  practical  disadvantage  in  the  use 
of  such  materials  is  that,  as  they  flow  from 
the  pen  as  clear  and  colourless  as  pure  water, 
it  is  very  difficult  to  see  what  one  is  writing; 
and  so  soon  as  tlie  writing   dries,  as  it  very 


1 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  55 

quickly  does,  any  cliance  of  correction  or  re- 
consideration is  gone,  and  one  can  only  trust 
to  memory  as  to  what  was  really  put  down 
at  all.  Such  a  message,  too,  on  its  receipt, 
might  easily  be  mislaid  or  torn  up  as  a  piece 
of  valueless  paper;  while,  on  the  other  hand, 
any  special  solicitude  for  its  preservation 
would  at  once  excite  comment  and  suspicion. 
Any  person  who  entertained  such  suspicion 
would  probably  be  well  aware  that  heat  was 
one  of  the  most  effectual  means  of  render- 
ing a  secret  message  visible,  and  on  its 
application  the  message  would  stand  forth 
revealed  to  quite  other  eyes  than  those  for 
whom  it  was  intended. 

Some  few  of  these  simple  preparations  we 
may  refer  to ;  as  those  who  are  curious  in 
such  matters  might,  when  once  put  on  the 
track,  very  naturally  desire  to  test  them  for 
themselves.  Any  one  so  doing  should  be 
careful  to  use  a  clean  quill  pen;  and  as 
some,  at  least,  of  the  materials  are  poisonous, 


56  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

some  little  discretion.  Any  one,  for  instance, 
who  leaves  a  clear,  colourless  solution  in  a 
teacup  or  tumbler  for  an  hour  or  two  in 
kitchen  or  dining-room  may  very  possibly  be 
called  upon  by  the  coroner  to  explain;  while 
attendance  at  the  funeral  would  be  another 
grievous  break  in  the  time  devoted  to  this 
interesting  study. 

As  a  familiar  example  of  the  chemicals 
affected  by  light  we  may  mention  nitrate  of 
silver.  Any  communication  made  by  a  solu- 
tion of  this  would  remain  invisible  until  such 
time  as  exposed  to  daylight.  On  this  ex- 
posure, the  writing  would  reveal  itself  in  dark 
chocolate-brown,  and,  once  made  visible,  re- 
mains so.  The  writing  should,  of  course,  be 
done  by  artificial  light;  and  we  have  found 
that  a  proportion  of  one  of  nitrate  to  fifteen 
of  distilled  water  makes  about  the  most  satis- 
factory mixture.  If,  instead  of  placing  the 
paper  in  the  daylight  we  hold  it  over  a 
vessel   containing    sulphate    of    ammonia    the 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  57 

writing  will  appear  with  a  metallic  and  silvery 
brilliancy. 

If  we  make  a  solution  of  chloride  of  cobalt, 
it  will  be  of  a  pale  pink  in  tint;  but  the 
colour  is  so  slight  that  in  writing  with  the 
fluid  it  appears  colourless  on  the  paper,  and 
there  is  absolutely  no  trace  of  anything  to 
be  seen.  On  warming  the  paper  before  a 
good  strong  fire  the  characters  appear  of  a 
clear  bluish-green;  but  they  disappear  again 
as  the  paper  cools,  a  matter  of  some  five 
minutes  or  so.  The  effect  can,  of  course,  be 
reproduced  as  often  as  we  choose  to  apply  the 
necessary  heat.  If  we  use  acetate  of  cobalt 
instead,  the  warming  of  the  paper  brings  out 
the  communication  in  a  clear  and  beautiful 
blue  colour. 

Equal  parts  of  sulphate  of  copper  and  sal- 
ammoniac  dissolved  in  water  give  a  solution 
of  a  beautiful  turquoise-blue  tint.  This,  if 
applied  at  all  strongly,  dries  on  the  paper 
of  a  pale    greenish    colour,   a   tint   too    weak 


58  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

to  be  legible,  tbougli  not  too  weak  to  be 
noticeable  on  a  scrutiny.  On  warming  the 
paper  on  wliicb  any  communication  has  been 
made  by  this  agency  the  writing  appears  of 
a  clear  yellow,  but  on  the  cooling  of  the  paper 
it  disappears.  The  juice  from  an  onion  that 
has  been  macerated  in  a  mortar  will  also  pro- 
duce the  same  effect,  the  characters  written 
by  means  of  it  being  at  first  invisible,  but 
afterwards  clearly  legible  and  of  a  yellow 
colour. 

If  we  wish  to  have  a  message  that  will 
remain  indelible  when  once  developed,  we  have 
the  materials  ready  to  hand  by  dissolving  oil 
of  vitriol  in  soft  water  in  the  proportion  of 
a  fluid  ounce  of  the  former  to  a  pint  of  the 
latter.  Strong  chemical  action  is  set  up,  and 
great  heat  evolved.  The  solution  should  be 
well  stirred,  and  then  allowed  to  cool,  and 
it  is  then  ready  for  use.  Anything  written 
by  this  agency  is  in  theory  supposed  to  be 
quite  invisible  until  warming  at  the  fire  brings 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  59 

it  out  a  clear  black,  but  in  practice  we  found, 
with  solutions  of  varying  strengths,  that  the 
writing,  though  at  first  invisible,  became  on 
drying  quite  perceptible,  and  looking  as  though 
written  with  whitewash  or  Chinese  white  on 
the  paper.  On  a  very  cursory  examination 
it  might  escape  notice,  but  the  slightest  scru- 
tiny reveals  it.  The  difficulty  is  that  if  we 
use  a  strong  solution  the  writing  can  be  read 
in  the  white  characters,  though  it,  on  the 
application  of  heat,  develops  into  a  clear 
and  excellently  legible  black ;  while  if  we  use 
a  solution  so  weak  as  to  escape  notice  when 
applied  to  the  paper,  it  also  develops  a  very 
weak  colour  on  the  application  of  warmth. 
The  proportions  we  have  given  are  perhaps 
the  best,  but  the  result  in  any  case  is  hardly 
satisfactory  if  absolute  invisibility  is  our  ob- 
ject, and  of  course  nothing  short  of  this  is 
worth  anything. 

Many   other    chemical   methods    might    be 
mentioned,  but  their  value  after  all  does  not 


60  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

appear  to  be  very  great.  Nothing  but  per- 
sonal investigation  is  of  any  real  use.  One 
finds  over  and  over  again  things  commended 
by  various  writers  that  entirely  break  down 
when  brought  to  the  vital  test  of  actual 
experiment. 


CHAPTER    11 

Ancient  use  o£  arbitrary  symbols — Tyrouiaii  abbreviatious  — 
Early  works  on  shorthand— Excessive  abbreviation  of 
inscriptions  on  coins,  etc. — Telegram-English — Mason- 
marks — Rise  of  cipher-writing  in  England — Clarendon's 
"History  of  the  Rebellion" — Battle  of  Xaseby — Royal 
correspondence  captured  and  deciphered — Published  by 
Parliament — Weighted  naval  signal-codes  — Charles  I.  a 
great  expert  in  cryptography — Use  of  nnlles  or  non- 
significants — Numerical  ciphers — Mediaeval  inscription 
without  vowels — Ciphers  of  Queen  Henrietta  and  Sir 
Ralph  Yerney— Great  use  of  cipher  at  troublous  periods 
of  history — The  "  Century  of  Inventions  "  of  the  Marquis 
of  Worcester— Birth  of  the  steam-engine — Dedication  of 
his  labours  to  the  nation — B^s  numerous  suggestions 
for  cryptograms — The  "  disk  "  cryptogram  —  Principle 
modified  to  sliding  strip  —  Bead  alphabet  —  Heraldic 
representation  of  colours  in  black  and  white  —  The 
*'  string  "  cipher — Bacon  a  cryptographic  enthusiast — 
His  essentials  of  a  good  cipher — -—His  highest  perfec- 
tion of  a  cipher — His  plan  cumbrous  and  unsatisfactory 
— ^A  Trithemian  example — Elizabethan  arbitrary  mark 
ciphers — No  real  mystery  in  them. 

A     METHOD  adopted  by  the  ancient  writers 

of  representing  words  by  arbitrary  marks 

was  said  to  have  been  first  introduced  by  the 

61 


62  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

old  poet  Ennius.  Maecenas,  Cicero,  Seneca  the 
elder,  Philargirus,  Tyro,  and  many  otlier 
Avriters  commended  and  employed  these  marks. 
By  the  time  of  Seneca  thirteen  thousand  of 
these  characters  were  in  use.  They  are  or- 
dinarily termed  Tyronian.  Thousands  of  these 
Tyronian  abbreviations  and  symbols  may  be 
seen  in  the  writings  of  Valerius  Probus, 
Paulus  Diaconus,  Goltzius,  and  other  authors. 
So  completely  during  the  Middle  Ages  did  they 
answer  the  purpose  of  secret  writing  that  an 
old  copy  of  a  psalter  found  inscribed  in  these 
characters  was  ignorantly  entitled,  "  PsaUeriu)7i 
in  Lingua  Armenica " ;  and  Pope  Julius  the 
Second  employed  several  learned  men  without 
success  to  decipher  it.  This  was  originally 
but  a  system  of  shorthand,  and  it  only  grew 
into  a  mystery  when  the  key  that  unlocked 
it  was  lost. 

The  "Jrs  Scribendi  characteris,^^  written 
about  the  year  1412,  is  the  oldest  system  of 
shorthand    extant,    while     the     first    English 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  63 

book  on  the  subject  did  not  apjDear  until 
1588.  It  was  written  by  one  Timotlij  Bright, 
and  entitled  "  Characterie,  or  the  Art  of 
Short,  Swift,  and  Secret  Writing."  The 
notion  of  cryptography  is  present  in  this  title. 
If  a  man  employs  a  system  of  abbreviated 
writing  because  it  is  short  or  swift,  it  is  to  him 
but  a  matter  of  convenience  and  a  gain  of 
time;  but  if  he  adopts  it  because  it  is  secret, 
an  entirely  different  motive  comes  in.  A  man 
who  writes  in  Pitman  or  any  other  widely- 
known  system  of  shorthand,  or  who  adopts 
any  of  the  modern  telegraph  code-books  that 
compress  a  long  sentence  into  a  single  arbi- 
trary word,  is  no  disciple  of  cryptography 
therein ;  but  if  he,  like  Pepys  in  his  famous 
diary,  adopts  a  secret  code  because  on  the 
whole  he  prefers  to  keep  his  affairs  private, 
his  shorthand  stands  on  quite  a  different 
footing  to  that  of  the  first  man.  Such  codes 
have  their  dangers.  Not  only  is  one  exposed, 
hke   Pepys,    to   the   risk   of   having  all   one's 


64  CR  YPTOGRAPH  Y 

matters  laid  bare,  but  tliere  is  also  the  pro- 
bability of  sucli  a  fiasco  as  occurred  within 
our  own  knowledge,  where  a  man  kept  his 
business  and  family  memoranda  by  a  short- 
hand system  that  he  himself  devised,  the  result 
being  that  at  his  death  his  affairs  got  at  once 
into  a  state  of  utter  confusion  that  they  never 
rallied  from,  and  there  can  be  but  little  doubt 
that  much  property  was  lost  to  the  family 
from  want  of  all  clue  to  it. 

An  ancient  form  of  writing  employed 
amongst  the  Romans  w^as  the  excessive  ab- 
breviation of  w^ords  in  inscriptions  on  statues, 
coins,  and  so  forth ;  but  this  w^as  not  for 
secrecy.  Any  one  caring  for  examples  of  the 
sort  of  thing  Avill  find  abundant  illustrations 
in  such  old  tomes  as  the  '^Lexicon  Diploma- 
ticum^^  of  Walther  or  the  '^  Siglarium  Bo- 
manum  "  of  Gerrard.  In  fact,  the  D.Gr.  and 
Fid.  Def.  on  our  present  money  supplies  us 
with  a  good  example  of  the  curtailment  neces- 
sary where  one  desires  to  get  a  good  deal  of 


OR  CIPHER- WRITING  65 

material  in  a  very  circumscribed  space.  A  still 
better  example  may  be  seen  in  the  coinage 
of  George  III.,  where  we  may  find  such 
concentrated  information  as  the  following : 
M • B • F • ET • H • REX -F-D-B-ET'L-D- 
S  •  R  •  I  •  A  •  T  •  ET  •  E  •.  This  suggests  a  sort 
of  mince  or  hash  of  the  alphabet,  but  with 
due  amplification  and  clothing  of  these  bare 
letters,  we  arrive  at  last  at  "  Magnce  Britan- 
nice,  Franci'ce  eb  Hibernice  Rex,  Fidel  Defensor, 
Brunnovici    et    Liinehergi   Dux,    Sacrl   Bomani 

(Imperii  Archithesaurarius  et  Elector^ 
We  may  say  parenthetically  that  in  all 
cryptogrammic  communications  the  message 
or  other  matter  should  be  abbreviated  as  far 
as  is  consistent  with  intelligibility.  One 
should  cultivate  for  this  purpose  the  style 
of  telegram-English.  It  makes  less  labour 
■  and  less  chance  of  error  creeping  in  for  the 
sender,  less  time  in  unravelling  for  the  re- 
ceiver, and  less  handle  for  any  unauthorized 
reader  to  lay  hold  of.     This  last,  as  we  shall 


66  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

see  wlien  we  come  presently  to  consider  the 
decipherment  of  a  mysterious  message,  is  a 
point  of  very  considerable  importance. 


Fig.  7. 


On  old  buildings  we  may  sometimes  see 
what  are  called  mason-marks  cut  upon  the 
stones.  It  has  been  suggested  that  these 
had    originally    a    symbolic    meaning    known 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  67 

only  to  those  initiated  in  the  ancient  craft  of 
freemasonry.  Some  authorities  tell  us  that 
they  are  almost  as  old  as  the  human  race, 
that  they  probably  had  in  early  times  a 
meaning  that  is  now  lost,  that  they  were  long 
regarded  with  a  certain  reverence,  and  that 
an  essential  rule  for  their  formation  was 
that  they  should  contain  at  least  one  angle. 
We  have  reprinted  in  Fig.  7  divers  examples 
of  these  marks  from  various  ancient  buildings. 
There  is  no  doubt  that  all  of  them  contain 
at  least  one  angle !  The  more  prosaic  ex- 
planation of  these  marks  is  that  they  served 
to  denote  the  work  of  each  mason  employed 
on  any  important  building,  that  if  the  pay- 
ment was  by  piecework  such  marking  pre- 
vented dispute,  and  that  if  the  work  were  badly 
done  or  any  error  made  it  was  at  once  seen 
where  blame  should  be  imputed.  Each  mason 
had  his  distinctive  mark,  and  many  ancient 
registers  of  these  are  extant.  The  enthusiasts 
who  see  in  these  marks  some  mystic  cult  claim 


68  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

as  one  proof  that  thej  may  be  found  even  on 
the  blocks  of  sfcone  that  complete  the  Pyra- 
mids; but  the  more  prosaic  student  might 
point  out  that  this  after  all  only  indicates 
very  ancient  usage,  and  that  it  was  as  neces- 
sary in  the  time  of  Chofo  to  detect  careless 
workmanship  as  when  Salisbury  or  Amiens 
cathedrals  were  being  erected.  Whatever  may 
be  the  exact  truth,  we  are,  we  think,  at  all 
events  justified  in  giving  them  a  paragraph 
and  an  illustration  in  the  space  at  our  dis- 
posal. 

Cipher-writing  scarcely  makes  any  real  ap- 
pearance in  English  archives  until  the  reign 
of  Queen  Elizabeth.  There  had  been  divers 
isolated  examples,  as,  for  instance,  as  far  back 
as  Alfred  the  Great ;  but  it  was  scarcely  until 
the  days  of  the  Tudors  that  we  find  it  really 
in  vogue.  Many  examples  of  this  period  are 
preserved  in  the  British  Museum,  and  in  the 
troublous  days  of  the  first  Charles  we  find 
an  immense  use  of  it. 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  69 

Amidst  tlie  historical  documents  preserved  in 
the  House  of  Lords,  and  brought  to  light  by  the 
Royal  Commission  on  historical  MSS.,  is  the 
correspondence  of  King  Charles  captured  by 
the  Roundheads  at  Naseby — a  correspondence 
which  Dr.  John  Wallis,  a  distinguished  ma- 
thematician of  those  days,  analysed  and  fin- 
ally deciphered,  and  which  ultimately  cost 
the  defeated  monarch  his  head. 

In  Lord  Clarendon's  "  History  of  the  Re- 
bellion "  (Book  IX.  vol.  ii.  p.  508)  we  read : 
"  In  the  end  the  King  was  compelled  to  quit 
the  field,  and  to  leave  Fairfax  master  of  all 
his  foot,  cannons,  and  baggage,  amongst  which 
was  his  own  cabinet,  where  his  most  secret 
letters  were,^  and  letters  between  the   Queen 


^  One  scarcely  sees  how,  in  the  turmoil  of  battle  and  the 
sudden  realization  of  defeat,  an  incident  so  untoward 
could  well  be  prevented.  On  board  a  man-of-war  the  code 
of  signals  is  always  kept  in  a  leaden  case,  perforated  with 
holes,  so  that  when  surrender  is  imperative  the  whole 
thing  is  dropped  overboard,  that  it  may  not  fall  into  the 
hands  of  the  enemy.  Even  this,  however,  owing  to  the 
death  of  the  responsible  officer,  or  other  cause  (for  in  the 


70  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

and  liim,  of  wliicli  they  sliortly  after  made 
that  barbarous  use  as  was  agreable  to  their 
natures,  and  published  them  in  print :  that 
is,  so  much  of  them  as  they  thought  would 
asperse  either  of  their  Majesties,  and  improve 
the  prejudice  they  had  raised  up  against  them ; 
and  concealed  other  parts  that  would  have 
vindicated  them  from  many  particulars  with 
which  they  had  aspersed  them."  The  battle 
of  Naseby  occurred  on  Saturday,  June  14th, 
1645.  On  June  23rd  the  House  of  Commons 
resolved  "  that  the  several  letters  and  papers 
taken  at  Naseby  Field  should  be  referred  to 
the  Committee,  to  translate  the  French  letters, 
decipher  those  that  are  not  deciphered,  and 
to  sort  them."  It  was  also  resolved  that  these 
letters  and  papers  should  be  communicated 
to  the  Committee  of  both  Kingdoms,  "  to  the 

heat  of  action  a  man  may  lose  his  head,  though  to  out- 
ward appearance  without  a  scar),  is  not  always  an  efficient 
safeguard.  Within  a  mile  of  Charing  Cross,  in  the  Royal 
United  Service  Museum,  may  be  seen  the  weighted  signal 
code  of  the  United  States  ship  Chesapealie,  captured  on 
board  that  vessel  by  the  British  ship  Shannon. 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING  7 1 

intent  that  they  may  take  copies  to  transmit 
into  Scotland  and  to  foreign  parts,  and  tbat 
the  said  letters  and  papers  shall  be  put  in 
a  safe  and  public  hand  and  place,  to  the  end 
that  such  as  desire  it  may  peruse  the  ori- 
ginals." Some  sixty  letters  were  captured. 
Many  on  receipt  had  been  already  deciphered 
by  the  King  or  Queen,  and  the  translation 
appended  to  them  for  greater  ease  of  reading, 
Charles  I.  during  the  course  of  the  war 
composed  a  great  many  ciphers,  and  sonae 
of  them  of  very  abstruse  character.  His  cele- 
brated letter  to  the  Earl  of  Glamorgan,  in 
which  some  very  suspicious  concessions  to  the 
Catholic  party  in  Ireland  were  mooted,  was 
composed  entirely  of  short  strokes  in  different 
directions ;  but  his  favourite  idea  was  the 
use  of  numbers,  and  the  Naseby  letters  were 
of  this  latter  type.  A  good  many  "  dummy  " 
numbers  are  introduced,  in  addition  to  those 
that  stand  for  letters  or  words.  Such  dum- 
mies  are  of   course  intended   to    throw   those 


72  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

who  are  unauthorized  to  read  the  letters  off 
the  scent,  and  some  such  arrangement  is  very 
common  as  a  cryptographic  expedient.  They 
are  known  as  nulles  or  non-significants  also, 
and  we  shall  come  across  numerous  examples 
of  their  use  ere  our  book  is  finished.  Various 
people  are  also  numbered,  and  the  names  of 
places  that  are  likely  to  frequently  recur. 
This  is  clearly  a  great  saving  of  time,  as 
instead  of  having  to  spell  out  Prince  Eupert 
or  Oxford  in  full  a  couple  of  numbers  will 
at  once  express  all  we  want,  and  of  course 
the  same  principle  is  applied  to  such  con- 
stantly wanted  words  as  artillery,  regiment, 
provisions,  and  the  like.  Where  words  are 
of  more  immaterial  and  non-betrayal  cha- 
racter, they  are  often  written  in  full ;  thus, 
for  instance,  we  find  the  Queen  writing  to  the 
King  as  follows :  "  Mr.  Capell  nous  a  fait 
voir  que  cij  27  '  23  •  52  •  62  •  2S  *  45  •  9  *  6G  •  4  • 
48  •  31  •  10  •  50  •  35  •  33  •  47  •  31  •  8  •  50  que  ce 
34  •  8  •  27  •  28  •  23  •  17  •  16  •  3  cf^t  tout  33  •  8  •  50 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  73 

•  5  •  62    cesi  ;pour  qimj  si  60  *  4  *  46  •  189  •  18  * 
69  •  2  •  70  intantion  de  donner  62  •  40  •  11  •." 

In  one  letter  of  the  sorely  troubled  Queen 
slie  writes  tliat  matters  have  so  harassed 
her,  "  que  je  suis  extremement  tourmantee 
die  mat  de  teete  qui  fait  que  je  mesteray 
en  syfre  ])ar  mi  autre  qui  jovois  fait  moy 
mesmey  ^  The  trusted  new  hand  then  comes 
and  finishes  the  letter  in  English.  We  give 
the  commencement,  and  place  over  the  sym- 
bols  their   significance  :    "  Theer  beeing   hear 


S          0 

a  47  •  35  • 

n 
39  • 

n 
40 

e 
•  7  • 

0        f 
35  •  16 

KD 
•  192  • 

tha 

hat 
31  •  17  •  46 

.    h 
•  31 

•21 

r 
•  51 

e      a 
•7-17 

t      c 
•  45  •  11 

r 
•50 

d      i       t 
5  •  27  •  45  • 

w 

58  • 

i 
27- 

t 
45  • 

h      h 
31  •  31 

i       s 
•27-47 

f 
•15 

a       t       h 
17  •  45  •  31 

e 

•  7  • 

r 
50 

ffoei] 

le:   now 

f       r 
16  •  51  • 

0 

32 

m      Ho 

42  •  164,"    and  so   forth.       The   rest   of    the 

^  "  Which  causes  me  to  be  extreamly  troubled  with  the 
headach  and  to  make  use  of  another  for  the  writing  in 
cypher  which  J  should  have  done  else  myselfe." — Parlia- 
ment translation. 


74  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

letter  goes  on  in  the  same  manner,  but  we 
need  not  repeat  the  figuring.  The  transla- 
tion of  it  is  that  "  260  thought  fitt  to 
speake  to  him  to  solicit  KD  at  his  arriuall 
for  to  dispatch  of  6000  amies  to  be  sent 
to  ]Sr  to  arme  the  Scottch  or  to  imploy  any 
other  way  189  shall  thinke  good.  "WM  be- 
ing returned  hath  aduertised  260  that  some 
Englishe  Catholiques  in  P  haue  layed  their 
purses  together  for  supply  of  armes  for  189. 
260  doth  therefore  desire  189  to  aduertise 
WM  of  the  place  where  they  are  to  be  sent. 
189  may  write  to  WM  iii  the  cipher  189 
hath  with  260.'*  This  was  clearly  a  docu- 
ment to  be  veiled  in  cipher.  The  publica- 
tion of  these  letters  by  the  Parliamentarians 
caused  great  excitement,  we  are  told — a  mat- 
ter to  be  scarcely  wondered  at, — and  we  can 
well  imagine  that  KD  and  WM,  189  and 
260,  would  take  uncommonly  good  care  to 
keep  the  Channel  between  themselves  and  the 
victorious  Puritans. 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING  75 

It  will  nofc  have  escaped  the  notice  of 
the  careful  reader  that,  while  some  of  the 
letters  in  the  little  extract  we  have  given 
are  each  time  they  occur  represented  by  the 
same  number, — H,  for  instance,  being  always 
31, — others  vary,  so  that  N  is  represented  by 
39  or  40,  T  is  45  or  46,  and  R  is  50  or  51. 
This  changing  of  the  symbol  is  frequently 
resorted  to  in  cryptography,  or  a  little 
patient  analysis  of  a  communication  would 
presently  throw  light  upon  it.  First  a  small 
clue  would  be  gained,  and  then  more  and 
more  would  follow.  E,  for  instance,  is  the 
letter  that  occurs  most  commonly  in  English; 
therefore,  unless  the  symbols  are  changed,  the 
one     that     occurs     oftenest    will     mean     E.^ 

1  A  curious  old  iDscription  over  the  decalogue  in  a 
country  church  runs  as  follows  : — 

PRSVRYPIIFCTMNYRKPTHSPRCPTSTN. 

It  is  said  that  the  meaning  of  this  was  not  discovered  for 
two  hundred  years  ;  but  if  our  readers  will  add  to  these 
letters  a  sufficient  sprinkling  of  one  more  letter — "E  " — 
they  will  have  no  difficulty  in  converting  it  into  "  Per- 
severe, ye  perfect  men  ;  ever  keep  these  precepts  ten." 


76  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Double  L  is  a  common  final,  so  if  we  find 
two  similar  symbols  recurring  at  ends  of 
words  we  may  at  least  think  them  to  be 
LL.  Of  course  they  may  be  double  SS, 
another  common  termination;  but  if  we  as- 
sume them  for  the  time  being  to  be  LL, 
then  we  may  look  up  ELL.  That  means 
very  little,  but  it  is  at  all  events  some- 
thing to  build  a  theory  on.  Then  we  think 
of  sell,  well,  fell,  and  maybe  add  another 
letter  to  our  store.  All  this  of  course  is 
very  speculative  and  tentative,  but  it  is  in 
this  direction  that  he  who  would  decipher  a 
cryptogram  must  proceed. 

As  another  illustration  of  the  number  ci- 
pher we  may  instance  that  used  by  Sir 
llalph  Verney.  An  example  of  it  may  be 
found  in  the  "  Notes  of  Proceedings  of  the 
Long  Parliament,"  that  may  be  seen  in  the 
valuable  reproductions  issued  by  the  Cam- 
den Society.  The  editor  makes  the  follow- 
ing  note :    "  The  following   numerals   Avritten 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING  77 

in  pencil  by  the  hand  of  Sir  Ealph  Verney 
look  like  an  attempt  to  take  notes  in  a  ci- 
pher. The  numbers  range  from  1  to  28.  I 
add  them  here  in  the  hope  that  the  in- 
genuity of  some  reader  may  discover  their 
meaning."  As  they  evidently  entirely  non- 
plussed him,  one  hardly  sees  why  he  should 
somewhat  slightingly  have  called  them  "an 
attempt "  to  "  take  notes."  If  we  come 
across  a  slab  in  the  British  Museum  covered 
with  arrow-head  forms,  we  may  scarcely 
legitimately  regard  it  with  supercilious  in- 
difference, or,  at  best,  contemptuous  tolera- 
tion, as  the  quaint  attempt  of  some  poor 
Assyrian  ignoramus  to  record  something  or 
other ;  nor  should  we  lament  from  our 
higher  level  the  vainglorious  conceit  of  some 
Chinaman  who  evidently  thinks  that  his  queer 
characters  mean  something. 

A  Mr.  Cooper,  in  the  year  1853,  succeeded 
in  deciphering  the  figures,  and  they  proved 
to    be    rough    notes   of    matters   referred   to 


78  CR  YPTOGRAPH  V 

in  Parliament.  Tliougli  there  can  be  no 
doubt  of  the  correctness  of  the  key  that  has 
unlocked  their  significance,  the  fact  is  patent 
that  Sir  Ralph,  writing  probably  against 
time  and  in  the  midst  of  many  distractions, 
was  not  entirely  at  home  in  the  cipher  he 
employed,  wrong  characters  being  at  times 
introduced.  The  following  are  examples  of 
the  cipher  used  by  Sir  Ealph  Verney  in 
making  his  memoranda  :  "28  *  17 — 15  •  22  *  5  • 
3  •  14  •  10  •  5  •  8—17  •  2—20  •  15  •  5  •  5  •  15  • 
3  •  8—5  •  17—6  •  15—14  •  20  •  17  •  18  •  15  • 
13—16  •  28—5  •  7  •  16  •  8—7  •  17  •  18  •  8  • 
15."  This  deciphers  into :  "  No  extracts  of 
letters  to  be  aloued  in  this  House."  An- 
other one  reads  :  "  5  •  7  •  15—12  •  3  •  16  •  28  • 
10  •  15—16  •  8—28  •  17  •  7—10  •  17  •  27  •  15  • 
5  .  17—11  •  3  •  15  •  15  •  28  •  7  •  16  •  10  •  7," 
signifying  "  The  prince  is  noli  come  to 
Greenhich."  For  the  fourth  word  here  we 
should  probably  read  either  now  or  not, 
the  difference    in    sense    being    considerable^ 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING 


79 


the  direct  contrast  between  an  aflBrmative 
and  a  negative.  *'  Come  to  "  is  in  the 
cipher  run  together  into  "cometo,"  but  this 
was  probably  carelessness  rather  than  craft. 

The  ingenious  and  painstaking  Mr.  Cooper 
presently  determined  that  the  same  numeral 
always  stands  for  the  same  letter,  and  that 
is  always  a  very  helpful  state  of  things  for 
the  decipherer.  Of  course  A  is  not  1,  and 
B  2,  and  C  3,  and  so  forth  in  regular 
sequence,  as  that  would  be  a  great  deal  too 
easy  an  arrangement,  so  that  it  remains  to 
find  out  what  arbitrary  arrangement  has 
been  made.  On  analysis  it  is  found  that 
the  letters  are  represented  by  numerals  as 
follows  : — ■ 


2  =  F 

8  =  S 

14  =  A 

22  =  X 

3  =  R 

9  =  W 

15  =  B 

25  =  Y 

4  =  K 

10  =  0 

16  =  1 

27  =  M 

5  =  T 

11  =  G 

17  =  0 

28  =  N 

6  =  B 

12  =  P 

18  =  U 

7  =  H 

13 -D 

20  =  L 

So  CR  YP  TOGRAPHY 

In  tlie  memoranda  tliat  have  come  to 
light  we  find  no  use  of  1,  19,  21,  23,  24  or 
26,  but  on  the  other  hand  we  find  that  by 
chance  Yerney  had  no  necessity  to  use  in 
anything  he  wanted  the  less-commonly  em- 
ployed letters  J,  Q,  V,  or  Z  ;  we  may 
therefore  fairly  assume  that  four  of  the 
missing  numbers  would  be  the  equivalents 
of  the  four  missing  letters. 

For  facility  of  reading  anything  already 
written,  the  table  we  have  given,  numbers 
and  then  letters,  is  the  most  useful;  but 
if  we  desired  to  write  anything  ourselves,  a 
table  having  first  letters  and  then  numbers 
is  of  more  service.  If  we  want  to  trans- 
late a  good  stiff  piece  of  Russian,  we  turn 
to  the  Russian-English  half  of  our  diction- 
ary ;  but  if  we  desire  to  translate  our  own 
tongue  into  Russian,  then  we  seek  help  from 
the  English-Russian  portion  of  our  book. 
In  the  same  way  the  sender  of  a  crypto- 
gram  uses    "  ordinary   letter-cryptogrammic," 


OR    CIPHER^WRITING 


8l 


while  the  receiver  employs  to  translate  it 
the  ^'  cryptogrammio-ordinary  letter  "  table. 
For  the  purpose  of  the  sender  the  Verney 
table  should  be  as  follows  : — 


A=14 

H  =  7 

0  =  17 

B  =  6 

1=16 

P  =  12 

C  =  10 

J=l 

Q=19 

D  =  13 

K  =  4 

R  =  3 

E  =  15 

L  =  20 

S  =  8 

r=2 

M  =  27 

T  =  5 

G=ll 

N  =  28 

U  =  18 

V=21 

X  =  22 
Y  =  25 
Z=23 


We  have  assigned  values  to  the  /,  Q,  F, 
and  Z,  the  letters  missing  in  Verney's  notes. 
If,  therefore,  we  had  desired  to  pass  a  little 
note  across  the  House  to  Sir  Verney, 
"  Why  do  you  use  cipher  ?  '*  we  should  have 
sent  him  the  following  :  "  9  •  7  •  25—13  •  17— 
25  •  17  •  18—18  •  8  •  15—10  •  16  •  12  •  7  •  15  •  3." 
His  supposititious  reply  to  this  supposititious 
message  we  leave  to  our  readers  to  trans- 
late.    It  ran  as  follows  :    "  27  •  16  •  28  •  13— 

F 


82  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

25  •  17  •  18  3—17  •  9  •  28—6  •  18  •  8  •  16  •  28  • 
15  •  8  •  8,"  a  remark  that  shows  that  while 
he  felt  our  note  an  intrusion,  also  shows 
that  we  had  succeeded  in  mastering  the 
cipher  he  was  employing. 

We  also  find  a  great  revival  of  crypto- 
logy  during  the  stormy  period  that  has  its 
central  point  in  the  flight  of  James  II.  and 
the  landing  of  William  III.,  when  plot  and 
counter-plot  sought  safety  in  the  use  of 
cryptograms.  The  adherents  of  Mary  Queen 
of  Scots  and  the  followers  of  the  Pre- 
tender were  naturally  also  very  proficient 
in  their  use. 

Edward  Somerset,  Marquis  of  Worcester, 
published  in  the  year  1633  a  little  book 
called  the  "  Century  of  Inventions."  This 
nobleman  was  greatly  addicted  to  scientific 
pursuits,  and  at  the  same  time  was  in  com- 
mand of  a  large  body  of  troops  under 
Charles  I.  He  afterwards  attached  himself 
to    the    suite    of     Charles    II.     in     exile    in 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  83 

■  France,  and  being  sent  over  by  liim  to 
London  to  procure  intelligence  and  supplies, 
was  speedily  detected  and  put  under  lock 
and  key  in  tlie  Tower.  He  was  set  at 
liberty  at  tlie  Kestoration.  His  enforced 
leisure  in  tlie  Tower  gave  liim  abundant 
leisure  for  study,  while  bis  position  as  a 
man  of  affairs  at  so  stormy  a  period  ex- 
plains how  it  is  that  amongst  his  hundred 
inventions  not  a  few  deal  with  the  various 
methods  of  secret  communication. 

tit  is  of  course  beside  our  present  mark 
to  deal  wdth  the  book  as  a  whole.  Suffice 
it  to  say  that  the  majority  of  his  inven- 
tions are  of  an  entirely  practical  character, 
and  the  germ  of  the  steam  engine  of  to- 
day in  all  its  mighty  force  and  pervading 
utility  is  to  be  found  in  his  observations. 
The  closely  fitting  cover  of  a  vessel  in  which 
he  was  preparing  food  in  his  apartment  of 
the  Tower  was  suddenly  forced  off  by  the 
pressure  of  the  confined   steam,  and  he  drew 


84  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

from   this   tlie    suggestion    that    such    a  force 
might  be  turned  to  useful  account. 

That  he  himself  believed  in  the  value  of 
his  work  is  quaintly  evident,  for  in  the  dedi- 
cation of  his  book  to  the  King's  most  ex- 
cellent  Majesty,  plus  Lords  and  Commons, 
on  the  sensible  principle  of  having  more 
than  one  string  to  his  bow,  he  writes : 
*'  The  Treasures  buried  under  these  heads, 
both  for  War,  Peace,  and  Pleasure,  being 
inexhaustible  I  beseech  you  pardon  if  I  say 
so :  it  seems  a  Vanity  but  comprehends  a 
Truth :  since  no  good  Spring  but  becomes 
the  more  plentiful  by  how  much  more  it  is 
drawn:  and  the  Spinner  to  weave  his  web 
is  never  stinted,  but  further  inforc'd.  The 
more  then  that  you  shall  be  pleased  to  make 
use  of  my  Inventions  the  more  Inventive 
shall  you  find  me,  one  Invention  begetting 
still  another,  and  more  and  more  improving 
my  ability.  And  as  to  my  heartiness  therein 
there    needs    no    addition,   nor   to   my  readi- 


I 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING  85 

ness  and  spur.  Therefore  be  pleased  to 
begin,  and  desist  not  from  commanding  me 
till  I  flag  in  my  obedience  and  endeavours  to 
Serve  my  King  and  Country. 

For  certainly  you'l  find  me  breathless  first  t'expire 
Before  my  hands  grow  weary,  or  my  legs  do  tire." 

No.  1  on  bis  list  is  "  Several  Sorts  of  Seals, 
some  shewing  by  scrues,  others  by  gages, 
fastening  or  unfastening  all  the  marks  at  once. 
Upon  any  of  these  Seals  a  man  may  keep 
Accompts  of  Receipts  and  Disbursements  from 
one  Farthing  to  an  hundred  Millions.  By 
these  Seals  likewise  any  Letter,  though  written 
but  in  English  may  be  read  and  understood  in 
eight  several  languages,  and  in  English  itself 
to  clean  contrary  and  different  sense,  unknown 
to  any  but  the  Correspondent,  and  not  to  be 
read  or  understood  either,  if  opened  before  it 
arrive  unto  him,  so  that  neither  Threats,  nor 
hopes  of  Eeward,  can  make  him  reveal  the 
secret,  the  letter  having  been  intercepted  by 
the  Enemy." 


86  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

JN^o.  2  is  a  further  development,  showing  how 
ten  thousand  people  may  use  these  wonder- 
ful seals  and  yet  keep  their  secrets  intact. 
No.  3  is  "a  Cypher  or  Character  so  con- 
trived, that  one  line,  without  returns  or  cir- 
cumflexes, stands  for  each  and  every  of  the 
24  letters,  and  as  ready  to  be  made  for  one 
letter  as  the  other,"  while  the  inventive 
faculty  in  him,  growing,  as  he  declared  it 
would,  by  use.  No.  4  is  *^  this  Invention  | 
refined  and  so  abbreviated  that  a  point 
onely  showeth  distinctly  and  significantly  any 
of  the  24  letters :  and  these  very  points  to 
be  made  with  two  pens,  so  that  no  time 
will  be  lost,  but  as  one  finger  riseth  the 
other  may  make  the  following  letter,  never 
clogging  the  memory  with  several  figures  for 
words :  which  with  ease  and  void  of  confusion 
are  thus  speedily  and  punctually,  letter  for 
letter,  set  down  by  naked  and  not  multiplied 
points.  And  nothing  can  be  less  than  a 
point."     One  almost  wonders  that  he  did  not 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING  Sj 

hit  upon  the  idea  of  clipping  his  fingers  in 
the  ink  and  so  making  four  or  five  points  at 
once  instead  of  being  content  with  two.  His 
fifth  invention  is  "  a  way  by  a  Circular  motion 
either  along  a  Rule  or  Eing  wise,  to  vary 
any  Alphabet,  so  that  the  self-same  Point 
individually  placed,  without  the  least  ad- 
ditional mark  or  variation  of  place,  shall  stand 
for  all  the  24  letters,  and  not  for  the  same 
letter  twice  in  ten  sheets  writing :  yet  as 
easily  and  certainly  read  and  known  as  if  it 
stood  but  for  one  and  the  self  same  letter 
constantly  signified." 

We  were  first  made  acquainted  with  the 
labours  of  the  Marquis  by  a  reference  to 
them  in  an  educational  work,  but  pre- 
ferring ahvays,  where  at  all  practicable, 
to  go  to  the  original,  we  turned  it  up  in 
the  magnificent  Library — the  students'  Para- 
dise— at  the  British  Museum.  We  note 
with  great  regret  that  the  author  gives 
no  further  clue    to   his   inventions  than   such 


88  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

sliort    sketch    as    we    have    already     quoted     \ 
in   the   case   of    one   or   two   of    them.     This 
fifth   invention   of    his,   the  constant   shifting 


Fig.  8. 


of  significance  of  letters  rule  or  ring- wise,  is 
very  descriptive,  however,  of  two  methods,  or 
rather  perhaps  one  method  in  two  forms,  that 
was  largely  in  use  in  the  middle  ages.     Fig. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  89 

8  is  an  illustration.  We  draw  a  circle  on  a 
fairly  stout  piece  of  cardboard  and  divide  its 
circumference  into  twenty-six  equal  parts,  and 
in  these  divisions  we  place  the  letters  of  the 
alphabet  in  the  regular  ABC  sequence  of 
ordinary  usage.  We  then  cut  out  a  somewhat 
smaller  circle  from  one  card  and  divide  the 
edge  of  this  also  into  twenty-six  equal  parts, 
and  in  these  we  place  the  alphabet  letters  in 
any  haphazard  fashion  we  choose.  We  next 
cut  this  out  and  place  it  in  the  centre  of  the 
first  and  drive  a  good  strong  pin  through 
the  centre,  the  result  being  that  the  upper 
card  revolves  freely  on  the  under  one,  enabling 
us  to  bring  any  letter  of  the  one  in  a  line 
with  any  letter  of  the  other.  The  person 
with  whom  we  are  corresponding  has  a  similar 
arrangement,  an(J  we  arrange  together  that, 
as  in  Fig.  8,  J  shall  be  adjusted  to  A. 
We  then  spell  the  words  out,  the  true 
letters  being  those  of  the  outer  circle,  but 
representing  them  by  those  of  the  inner.     If 


90  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

then  we  desire  by  means  of  this  diagram  to 
write  the  word  February,  it  would  come  out 
as  DZOXEJXT.  The  sender  reads  from  the 
outer  circle  to  the  inner  one,  while  the  re- 
ceiver reads  the  characters  from  inner  to 
outer,  a  glance  at  the  two  circles  showing 
him  that  D  is  really  F,  that  Z  is  E,  and  so 
on.  This  may  be  used,  as  set,  for  a  time ;  but 
if  we  want  to  circumvent  the  ingenious  med- 
dler who  begins  to  think  that  he  has  got  a 
clue  through  our  continuous  use  of  the  same 
equivalents,  all  that  is  necessary  is  to  give 
the  upper  card  a  gentle  push  and  A,  B,  C,  etc., 
are  now  represented  on  the  inner  circle  by  en- 
tirely different  letters,  and  the  too  ingenious 
onlooker  is  at  once  thrown  off  the  scent.  Our 
correspondent  must  of  course  know  of  this 
and  give  his  card  a  similar  turn,  but  this 
may  easily  be  arranged.  It  might,  for  in- 
stance, be  that  two  similar  letters  followed 
by  a  different  one  should  convey  the  hint; 
thus,  KKQ  would  mean  that  at  this  point  we 


OR    CIPHER-WRITING 


91 


shift  our  inner  alphabet  till  the  letter  within 

A  should  be  Q;   and  if  we  like 

in  the  course  of  a  page  or  two 

to     change     again,     then    BBX 

would  convey   the   hint  to   spin 

the  circle  round  until  X  became 

the  new  equivalent  of  A. 

This  combination  of  the  fixed 
and  revolving  circles  is  a  most 
excellent  one,  its  only  drawback 
being  that  it  is  perhaps  a  little 
difficult  to  read  the  radiating 
letters,  as  while  only  one  is  ab- 
solutely straight  up  the  others 
begin  to  lean  away  at  gradually 
increasing  angles,  till  we  get  at 
last  to  one  that  is  absolutely 
upside-down.  After  all,  how- 
ever, a  little  practice  should 
make  the  reading  of  them  a 
very  easy  matter;  but  to  those 
who    feel    a     difficulty    Fig.    9  fjg.  9. 


L 

Y 

D 

A. 

L 

A® 

B@ 

c® 

D© 

E® 

F® 

C  ® 

H® 

1   © 

K  ® 

92  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

should  come  as  a  boon  and  a  blessing 
wliere  the  "  Ring- wise "  arrangement  is 
changed  for  that  "  along  a  Rule."  We 
must  confess  ourselves  that  the  compact- 
ness of  No.  8  more  than  compensates  to 
our  mind  for  any  topsy-turvjdom,  Fig.  9 
being  a  long  rambling  sort  of  thing  to  keep 
in  one's  desk,  and  possessing  great  possibilities 
of  being  torn  when  turned  oyer  amongst  other 
papers.  We  have  only  drawn  a  portion,  less 
than  half — the  proportion  in  fact  that  AK, 
the  part  we  have  shown,  bears  to  AZ.  To 
make  this  key  a  somewhat  broad  strip  of 
card  has  twenty-six  openings  cut  or  punch- 
ed in  it,  and  opposite  to  these,  in  regular 
sequence,  are  placed  the  letters  of  the  al- 
phabet. A  slit  is  then  cut  at  top  and 
bottom,  and  a  narrower  strip  of  card  is 
inserted  so  that  it  will  slip,  not  too  easily, 
up  and  down.  All  along  this,  at  the  same 
distances  apart  as  the  openings  on  the 
broader     strip,    are     placed     the     letters     of 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  93 

the  alphabet  in  any  irregular  order.  When 
the  whole  twenty-six  letters  have  found  a 
resting  place,  the  strip  should  still  be  so 
long  as  to  admit  of  the  repetition  of  the  first 
six  or  eight,  as  what  we  want  is  not  only  a 
letter  to  appear  opposite  the  A,  B,  C,  down  to 
the  end,  but  also  some  little  surplus,  so  that 
the  slip  can  be  moved  up  and  down  so  as 
to  bring  other  combinations  in.  Of  course 
the  reader,  on  inspection  of  our  figure,  sees 
that  in  principle  it  is  identical  with  the  circular 
card  method  already  shown,  that  "head" 
would  be  XVET,  and  that  we  could  at  once 
vary  the  equivalents  by  sliding  the  narrow 
strip  upwards  or  downwards.  If  we  slipped 
it  down  imtil  D  came  opposite  to  A,  then 
''head''  would  no  longer  be  XYRT,  but 
BEDN.  Our  correspondent  must  clearly  be 
informed  of  any  such  shifting,  and  of  course 
any  accidental  shifting  of  the  sliding  piece 
must  be  guarded  against.  The  merest  glance 
that  the  proper  key  letter  is  still  opposite  to 


94  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

A  will  suffice  to  sliow  wliether  any  movement 
has  taken  place. 

To  revert  now  to  our  ingenious  Marquis. 
After  devoting  the  first  five  of  his  "Century"  to 
cryptography,  he  remembers  that  after  all  there 
are  other  matters  that  may  be  dealt  with  too ; 
but  cryptography  crops  up  again  at  No.  33, 
and  this  and  Nos.  34,  35,  36,  37,  38,  39,  40,  41, 
42,  and  43  are  all  devoted  to  suggestions  for 
secret  communication,  though  some  of  them 
are  of  a  very  forced  character  and  having  no- 
thing to  do  with  writing  at  all.  Fig.  40,  for 
instance,  is  to  be  worked  by  the  sense  of  smell, 
pegs  of  sandal- wood,  cedar,  rosewood,  and  so 
forth  being  so  arranged  and  grouped  that 
even  in  the  dark  a  message  could  be  composed 
or  discriminated ;  while  another  method  trusts 
to  the  taste,  pegs  being  dipped  in  alum,  salt, 
aloes,  etc.,  and  distinguished  by  touching  them 
with  the  tongue.  It  is  scarcely  to  be  imagined 
that  even  amongst  the  blind  such  a  sensitive- 
ness  to  smell  or  taste  could  be  developed   as 


OR  CIPHER- WRITING  95 

would  make  these  fancies  workable  realities. 
We  sliould  imagine  that  some  sixty  or  eighty 
applications  of  the  tongue  would  end  in  a  com- 
[plete  dulling  of  the  perception,  while  one  could 
scarcely  imagine  anything  much  more  nauseous 
than  a  course  of  peg-tasting  for  half  an  hour  of 
alum,  castor  oil,  saccharine,  turpentine,  cod- 
liver  oil,  lavender  water,  salt,  and  as  many 
more  strongly  flavoured  ingredients  as  would 
ibuild  up  an  alphabet.  One  of  his  methods 
is  by  a  knotted  string,  and  another  he  calls 
a  bracelet  alphabet.  After  No.  43  he  devises 
a  new  tinder  box,  an  artificial  bird,  and  so 
on;  but  at  No.  52  we  find  him  harping  on 
the  old  string  again,  if  devising  an  alphabet  by 
the  ''jangling  the  Bells  of  any  parish  church  " 
can  be  so  termed,  and  at  No.  75  we  are  in- 
structed "  how  a  tape  or  ribbon  weaver  may  set 
down  a  whole  discourse  without  knowing  a 
letter,  or  interweaving  anything  suspicious  of 
other  secret  than  a  new-fashioned  ribbon." 
It  is    certainly  very  remarkable  that  when 


96  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

the  Marquis  had  the  whole  field  of  possible 
inventions  open  to  him,  he  should  have  devoted 
so  large  a  proportion  of  his  book  to  the  think- 
ing out  of  so  many  schemes  in  this  one  narrow 
field  of  investigation. 

The  bracelet  alphabet  idea  has  been  utilised, 
and  cryptographic  messages  may  readily  be 
conveyed  by  means  of  any  coloured  objects 
such  as  beads  or  precious  stones.  If  we  take, 
for  example,  some  red,  green,  yellow,  black, 
blue,  and  white  beads,  we  can  so  arrange  them 
in  pairs,  each  pair  representing  one  letter  of 
the  alphabet,  as  to  be  able  to  spell  out  any 
communication.  Such  a  bracelet  or  string  of 
beads  could  be  worn  on  the  person,  or  sent 
amongst  other  trinkets  without  exciting  any 
special  observation.  Receiver  and  sender 
would  mutually  arrange  a  scheme  of  lettering 
by  this  aid  of  colours,  and  if  at  any  time  this 
were  discovered  a  re-arrangement  of  the 
colours  would  alone  be  necessary  for  a  fresh 
departure,  and  these  variations  could  be  made 


OR  CIPHER-WRIThXG  97 

in  an  immense  number  of  ways.  By  way  of  a 
start  we  would  suggest  the   following  key:  — 

A  =  red  and  green  N  =  white  and  red 

B  =  yellow  and  green  0  =  green  and  white 

C  =  red  and  yellow      ,  P  =  black  and  green 

D=yellow  and  black  Q  =  white  and  green 

E  =  red  and  black  R  =  white  and  black 

F  =  black  and  yellow  S  =  yellow  and  white 

Gr  — green  and  black  T==  white  and  yellow 

H= yellow  and  red  U  V  =  green  and  green 

1  J = green  and  yellow  ^7= black  and  white 

K=  green  and  red  X= red  and  red 

L= black  and  red  Y= yellow  and  yellow 

M=red  and  white  Z=  black  and  black 

Beads  of  turquoise  blue  colour  can  be  used 
to  divide  words,  or  tliey  may  be  inserted 
anywliere  as  non-significants.  If  tlie  beads 
themselves  are  not  available,  the  initials 
of  the  colours  will  suffice  ;  thus,  if  we  can- 
not actually  express  A  by  a  red  and  a  green 
bead,  we  can  by  RG.  As  B  is  already  re- 
quired for  black,  the  blue  must  be  T  for 
turquoise.  Ignoring  T  wherever  it  comes, 
the  letters  mast  always  be  read  in  pairs,  as  it 
takes  two  of  these  to  signify  the  real  letters  of 

G 


98  CRYPTOGRAPH  y 

the  message,  and,  knowing  tliis,  any  number  of 
accidental  breaks,  as  misleaders,  may  be  in- 
troduced. "Mind  see  Cecil"  would  therefore 
read  EWGYWRYBYWRBTRBEYTRTBRY- 
GYBRT  or  RWTGY  WRYBT  YWRB 
TRBRBT  RTBRYG  YBRTT,  or  any  other 
arbitrary  breaking-up  of  these  particular  let- 


ters into  sham  words  to  mislead   investigators 
that  we  chose  to  make. 

In  Fig.  10  we  have  strung  the  actual  beads, 
marking  their  colours  by  the  signs  used  in 
heraldic  work.^  Their  message  is  the  begin- 
ning of  "Mind  see  Cecil." 


1  Should  any  of  our  readers  not  know  these,  they  would 
find  it  useful  to  learn  them,  as  they  come  in  very  service- 
ably  not  only  in  finding  from  these  signs  the  actual 
colours  of  arms  engraved  in  illustrations,  book  plates,  and 
the  like,  but  they  are  also  very  useful  as  a  shorthand 
•way  of  expressing  colours  for  any  purpose,  as,  for  example, 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  99 

A  curious  form  of  early  ciplier  may  be 
seen  iu  Fig.  11.  Eacli  of  tlie  persons 
desirous  of  communicating  Tvitli  eacli  other 
was  provided  with  a  similar  strip  of  board 
or  stout  card.  Along  the  top  of  this  was 
placed  the  alphabet,  either  according  to  the 
common  order  of  the  letters  or  in  any  irreg- 
ular fashion,  so  long  only  as  they  all  made 
their  appearance  somewhere  in  the  series.  A 
knot  was  then  tied  at  the  end  of  a  piece  of 
string,  and  by  it,  through  a  hole  made  at  the 
top  of  the  strip,  the  string  was  held  in  its 
place.  The  sides  of  the  strip  of  wood  or  card- 
board were  notched,  and  the  string  was  wound 
round  tightly  and  was  held  in  these  teeth  or 
notches  and  secured  at  the  bottom  by  being 
inserted  in  a  cut.     On  this  string  the  person 


our  beads.  Gold  or  yellow  are  indicated  by  dots,  -while 
silver  or  white  are  left  qnite  plain.  Red  is  shown  by  a 
series  of  upright  lines  and  blue  by  horizontal  ores,  while 
black  is  known  by  being  marked  in  plaid  by  lines  both 
horizontally  and  vertically  disposed.  Green  is  indicated 
by  inclined  lines  downwards  from  right  to  left. 


100 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


sending  the  message  made  a  mark  witli  ink  or 
colour  in  a  line  witli  any  desired  letter.  The 
message  being  thus  spelt  out,  the  string  was 
unfastened  and  then  wrapped  round  a  package 
or  in  some  such  inconspicuous  way  got  into  the 
hands  of  the  receiver.  He,  on  its  receipt, 
wound  it  round  his  counterpart  board  and  was 


Fig.  11. 


enabled,  readily  enough,  to  read  off  the  com- 
munication. Fig.  11  is  only  a  small  portion  of 
such  a  board,  though  sufficient  to  indicate  its 
use.  We  have  commenced  upon  it  the  mes- 
sage *^  First  chance  not  till  May,"  but  our 
space  enables  us  to  show  but  a  very  limited 
portion  of  this.     The  first  line  gives  us  FIRST, 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  10 1 

but  t)ie  second  line  only  gives  CH,  as  the  A  we 
want  next  comes  before  C  and  H  in  the  alpha- 
bet and  must  therefore  come  on  tlie  next  row. 
If  we  marked  it  on  the  same  row,  we  should  get 
ACH,  and  this  is  no  use  to  us.  The  onlj 
drawback  to  this  method  of  communication  is 
that,  unless  each  party  stretches  the  string 
with  equal  tension  all  through,  the  marks  will 
not  in  the  second  winding  come  in  quite  the 
right  places.  A  slip  along  of  only  one  letter 
space  would  turn  FIRST  into  GJSTU,  to  the 
great  bewilderment  of  the  receiver  of  this 
enigmatical  message. 

Lord  Chancellor  Bacon  was  an  enthusiast 
in  cryptology.  He  laid  down  the  law  in 
quite  Johnsonian  style  in  this  and  many  other 
matters.  The  three  essentials  of  a  good 
cipher,  he  very  justly  declared,  were  facility  in 
execution,  difficulty  in  solution,  clearness  from 
suspicion.  This  latter  item  is  perhaps  not 
very  clearly  put;  his  meaning  is  safety  from 
the  decipherment  of  those  for  whom  the  com- 


102  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

munication  was  not  intended.  A  method  that 
he  himself  devised,  he  with  calm  assurance 
introduced  as  "a  cypher  of  our  own  which 
has  the  highest  perfection  of  a  cypher,  that 
of  signifying  omnia  'par  omnia,  anything  by 
everything."  This  sounds  most  convincing 
and  awe-inspiring.  It  is  ordinarily  said  that 
people  will  accept  a  man  pretty  much  at  the 
valuation  he  sets  on  himself;  but  when  one 
presently  re-reads  this  Baconian  dictum,  and 
asks  what  it  means,  perhaps  the  truest  answer 
would  be  "  very  little." 

As  a  cipher  it  is  not  of  any  great  merit, 
and  it  sins  grievously  against  his  own  first 
rule,  since  it  is  by  no  means  facile  in  use.  He 
employs  only  the  letters  A  and  B,  and  arranges 
these  in  groups  of  five  for  the  different  letters. 
If  then  we  desire  to  send  a  message  of  fifty 
letters,  it  would  be  necessary  to  use  two 
hundred  and  fifty.  It  is  therefore  far  too 
slow  in  operation ;  even  if  one  had  the  various 
formulae  at  one's  finger's  ends,  it  would  involve 


I 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING 


103 


five  times  the  labour  of  ordinary  writing. 
When  we  once  know  that  each  group  of  five 
stands  for  a  single  letter,  it  is  as  liable  of 
discovery,  on  the  same  principles  of  decipher- 
ment, as  a  simpler  arrangement.  Of  course,  if 
Bacon  had  not  published  this  clue,  the  task 
would  have  been  immensely  more  difficult,  and 
it  is  only  just  to  his  method  to  frankly  and 
fully  say  so. 

The  cipher  was  composed  as  follows: — 


A=AAAAA 
B=AAAAB 
C=AAABA 
D=AAABB 
E=AABAA 
E  =AABAB 
G=:AABBA 
H  =  AABEB 


I  -ABAAA 
K=ABAAB 
L  =  ABABA 
M  =  ABABB 
N=ABBAA 
0=ABBAB 
P^ABBBA 
Q=ABBBB 


R=BAAAA 
S  =BAAAB 
T  =BAABA 
U -BAABB 
W  =  BABAA 
X=BABAB 
Y  =BABBA 
Z  =BABBB 


We  shall  the  better  see  the  cumbrous  nature 
of  this  cipher  if  we  endeavour  to  apply  it. 
Such  a  word,  for  instance,  as  cryptogram 
would  become  by  this  code — 


AAABABAAAABABBAABBBABAABAABBAB 
AABBABAAAAAAAAAABABB 


104 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


In  tlie  same  cumbrous  fasliion,  and  based 
on  the  same  lines  as  that  of  Bacon,  is  the 
following,  which  we  extract  from  an  old 
encyclopedia: — 


A  =  lllll 
B  =  11112 
C  =11121 
D=11122 
E  =11211 
F  =11212 
G=  11221 
H  =  11222 
I  =12111 


J  =12112 
K  =  12122 
L  =12211 
M  =  12212 
N  =  12221 
0=12222 
P  =21111 
Q  =21112 
11=21121 


S  =21122 
T  =21211 
U  =21212 

V  =21221 
W  =  12121 
X  =22212 

Y  =22221 
Z  =22122 


The  intervals  between  the  words  were  to 
be  marked  by  333.  If  we  wished  to  ask 
our  correspondent  to  "  come  soon  now,"  we 
should  have  to  set  forth  the  following  unwieldy 
arrangement : — 

1112112222122121121133321122122221222212221 
333122211222212121 


Another  plan  that  has  been  sometimes 
adopted  may  be  illustrated  by  the  following 
cumbersome  example  from  Trithemius,  where 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  105 

only  the  second  letter  in  each  word  counts,  and 
all  the  rest  is  mere  padding :  "  Baldach  abasar 
lemai  clamech  abrach  misach  abrai  disaria 
athanas."  This,  after  all,  only  signifies  "  Abel 
bibit,"  and  it  has  taken  fifty-six  letters  to  give 
nine  ! 

n//bqA)Cct)nt-OC 
Y.  O  ±  4+f  8  4>  /^  r+- A  Hi 

Fig!  12. 

In  some  of  the  Elizabethan  ciphers  neither 
letters  nor  figures  are  used;  but  in  place  of 
them  we  find  merely  arbitrary  forms,  such  as 
those  we  have  represented  in  Fig.  12.  But 
this,  though  it  looks  at  first  sight  very  mys- 
terious, has  no  more  real  element  of  difficulty 
in  it  than  the  use  of  the  letters  of  the  alphabet. 


1 06  CR  YPTOGRAPHY 

It  is  really  immaterial  whether  we  spell  cat 
with  a  curved  line  (that  we  have  learnt  to  call 
0),  and  two  sloping  lines  coming  to  a  point 
and  a  horizontal  line  across  their  centre  (that 
we  have  got  used  to  as  A),  and  a  third  symbol 
made  up  of  an  upright  line  and  then  a  hori- 
zontal line  across  its  top  (a  form  that  we  are 
accustomed  to  call  T),  or  whether  we  decide 
that  C  instead  shall  be  made  of  two  lines 
crossing  at  their  centres,  while  A  shall  be  a 
thing  made  up  of  two  circles,  like  a  figure  8 
turned  sideways.  If  we  recognise  that  a  cer- 
tain form  is  the  symbol  of  a  certain  letter,  we 
soon  learn  to  recognise  this  form  when  we  see 
it,  and  its  shape  is  a  matter  that  is  absolutely 
indifferent  to  us.  If  the  letters  of  our  present 
alphabet  had  not  been  the  shapes  we  know 
them,  but  something  entirely  different,  it  would 
still  have  been  our  alphabet,  and  it  is  as  easy 
to  write  dog  in  Greek  or  German  letters,  or  in 
these  grotesque  forms  of  Fig.  12,  as  in  the 
letters  in  which  this  page  before  us  is  printed. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  1 07 

AYhy  should  not  the  ten  upper  forms  in  Fig. 
12  spell  cryptogram  just  as  well  as  CRYPTO- 
^  GRAM  does  ?  In  the  one  case  we  are  used  to 
the  forms  employed,  and  in  the  other  case  we 
are  not.     That  is  really  the  only  difference. 


CHAPTER   III 

Is  an  undecipherable  cryptogram  possible  P — The  art  of 
deciphering — Keys  for  the  analysis  of  a  cryptogram — Oft 
recurring  letters — Great  repetition  of  Towels — Patient 
perseverance — Papers  on  the  subject  in  Gentleman's 
Magazine  of  1742 — Yalue  of  general  knoTvledge — Conrad's 
rules — The  letter  E — "  Noughts  and  crosses  "  cryptogram 
— Its  construction — Ciphers  from  agony  columns  of  Stan- 
dard and  Times — Prying  busybodies — Alternate  letters 
significant — Ciphers  based  on  divers  shiftings  of  the 
letters — Cryptogram  in  Cocker's  *'  Arithmetick  " — In- 
ventor in  1761  of  supposed  absolutely  secret  system — His 
hopes  and  fears  thereon— Illegal  to  publish  Parliamentary 
debates — Evasion  of  the  law— Poe's  use  of  cryptogram 
in  story— Secret  marks  made  by  tramps  and  vagrants — 
Shop  ciphers  for  marking  prices  on  goods — Crypto- 
grammic  trade  advertisements — Examples  of  cipher 
construction— The  "grill"  cipher—The  "revolving  grill" 
— The  "  slip-card  " — Forms  of  numerical  cipher — The 
"Mirabeau"  —  Count  Grousfield's  cipher  —  Communi- 
cation by  use  of  a  dictionary — The  "Newark" — Tiio 
"  Clock-hands  " — The  "  two-word"  cipher — Conclusion. 

rpiHE  question  as  to  whether  a  cipher  has 
ever  been  devised  that  could  for  all  time 
successfully  defy  patient  investigation  will 
naturally  occur  to  our  readers.  Some  would 
have  it  that  as  all  the  advantages  are  in  favour 

108 


CIPHER-  WRITING  1 09 

of  the  ingenious  cryptographist,  it  should  not 
be  impossible  to  build  up  a  monument  of 
ingenuity  that  should  be  safe  from  all  assault, 
and  certainly  this  is  an  opinion  that  commends 
itself  to  us  as  a  very  reasonable  one.  Others 
would  tell  us  that  nothing  that  the  wit  of  man 
could  devise  is  safe  from  the  wit  of  some  other 
man  to  search  out.  However  this  may  be, — 
and  the  point,  of  course,  can  never  be  settled, 
— we  must  bear  in  mind  that  what  to  the 
ordinary  man  is  hopeless  may  not  prove  so  to 
the  deftly-trained  ingenuity  of  the  expert.  A 
cryptogram  in  Paris  that  was  deciphered  some 
few  years  ago  for  the  French  Government  took 
accompHshed  experts  just  six  months  to  lay 
bare,  and  the  ordinary  amateur  would  scarcely 
attack  any  problem  with  such  dogged  deter- 
mination as  that. 

In  the  art  of  deciphering  it  is  emphatically 
the  case  that  "  practice  makes  perfect."  There 
are  certain  very  definite  rules,  too,  that  prove 
of    immense   assistance   in    the   analysis   of  a 


no  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

cryptogram.  There  are  special  conditions, 
however,  for  each  language,  "  0,"  for  example, 
being  a  much  more  freely  used  letter  in 
Spanish  or  Italian  than  in  English.  In  the 
English  language  "  E  "  is  the  letter  that  occurs 
with  the  greatest  frequency.  The  easiest 
cipher  to  translate  is  that  where  each  letter 
in  it  always  stands  for  some  other  individual 
letter,  where  K,  for  instance,  always  means  F, 
or  P  may  be  recognised  as  L  all  through. 
Where  too  the  symbols,  puzzlitig  though  they 
be,  are  always  arranged  as  in  an  ordinary  com- 
munication, and  broken  up  into  words.  A 
cipher  at  once  becomes  immensely  more  diffi- 
cult if  the  letters  change  their  significance,  so 
that,  as  in  the  revolving  card  we  have  already 
illustrated,  E,  for  instance,  may  be  sometimes 
written  as  J,  at  others  as  S,  or  M,  or  X.  We 
at  once  add  greatly,  too,  to  the  puzzle  if  the 
words  .are  all  joined  into  one,  or  are  arbitra- 
rily broken  up.  Non- significants  also  add  to 
the  difficulties  of  analysis,  and  it  is  a  good  plan 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  III 

to  cut  out  every  "  and  "  and  "  the  "  and  such- 
like common  words  that  can  at  all  be  spared. 
The  English  tongue  abounds  in  monosyllables. 
Of  course  the  letters  that  necessarily  qccur 
most  commonly  are  the  vowels,  and  in  words 
of  two  letters,  such  as  am,  in,  of,  or  we,  one  of 
them  is  necessarily  a  vowel.  E  is  not  only  the 
commonest  letter  in  use  in  English,  but  it  also 
very  frequently  occurs  in  couples  ;  been,  seen, 
feet,  sweet,  agreed,  speed,  are  examples.  EA 
and  OU  are  the  double  vowels  that  most  com- 
monly go  together,  as  in  pear,  early,  and  ease, 
or  our,  cloud,  or  rough.  A  single  letter  will 
be  A,  or  I,  or  0.  Of  all  English  words  "  the  " 
is  the  one  that  most  commonly  occurs,  and 
"and"  runs  it  very  closely.  If,  therefore,  we 
have  determined  that  the  commonest  symbol  of 
all  in  our  mysterious  cryptogram  is  E,  then 
if  a  very  constantly  recurring  word  of  three 
letters  ends  with  this  same  symbol,  we  may 
begin  to  hope  that  we  have  found  out  H  and 
T.     EE,  00,  LL,  SS,  are  the  doubled  letters 


112  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

of  most  usual  occurrence ;  see,  feet,  tool, 
sliall,  well,  miss,  and  loss  are  illustrations. 
A  begins  three  very  common  two -letters,  an, 
as,  and  at,  and  0  begins  of,  on,  or,  and 
ends  do,  go,  no,  so,  to.  In  by  far  the  great 
majority  of  words  the  first  or  second  letter 
is  a  vowel.  Q  always  has  TJ  after  it.  JS^o 
English  word  terminates  with  I.  It  is  on 
such  bases  as  these,  vague  as  some  of  them 
may  seem,  that  the  decipherer  works.  There 
is  no  royal  road;  nothing  but  delicate  dis- 
crimination and  unlimited  patience  will  a- 
chieve  success. 

When  certain  equivalents  are  determined, 
they  should  at  once  be  written  down.  We 
may  now  take  any  word  in  which  any  one 
or  more  of  them  occur,  and  substitute  them 
for  the  symbols  standing  for  them,  and  then 
just  put  dots  for  the  others  until  more  light 
dawns.  Very  often  this  proceeding  at  once 
suggests  the  whole  word,  and  if  so  we  have 
at   once  gained  a  knowledge  of  other  charac- 


\ 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  II3 

ters  and  soon  get  a  long  way  towards  build- 
ing up  our  key.  If,  for  instance,  we  liave 
discovered  by  analysis  tliat  X,  L,  and  P  are 
really  A,  I,  and  T,  and  \Ye  come  across  the 
words  FXLTNXO  JPXPLER,  we  set  them 
down  as  follows  :  •  AI  •  •  A  •  •  TATI  •  •,  and  it 
presently  begins  to  dawn  upon  us  that  the 
words  "railway  station'*  would  just  fit  in. 
We  at  all  events  accept  this  tentatively. 
If  we  are  right  we  have  added  largely  to 
our  store,  for  we  now  see  that  F  must 
really  be  R,  T  must  be  L,  N  must  be  W, 
0  will  be  Y,  J  is  S,  E  must  be  0,  while 
R  represents  N.  Our  knowledge  of  three  let* 
ters  has  thus  given  us  seven  others.  If  we 
presently  find  in  the  cryptogram  the  group 
of  letters  JQXTT,  we  remember  that  we 
know  X  to  be  really  A,  and  our  railway 
station  guess  has  led  us  to  believe  that 
J  is  really  S,  and  T  is  L;  we  try  how  it 
looks  if  we  turn  JQXTT  into  S  •  ALL.  This 
suggests  to  us  small,  stall,  and   shall,  so  Q  is 

II 


114  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

eitlier  M  or  H ;  we  know  that  tlie  word  is 
not  stall,  because  T  we  already  know  is 
shown  by  P.  One  or  two  endeavours  at  words 
containing  Q  will  determine  for  us  whether  we 
shall  read  it  as  M  or  H.  Z,  the  commonest 
symbol  of  all,  we  have  decided  at  once  to  be 
E,  and  PQZ  offcen  recurs.  T'E  is  evidently 
THE,  so  Q  is  not  M, — for  there  is  no  word 
TME  — but  H.  JQXTT  is  therefore  SHALL. 
So  by  patient  analysis,  sometimes  by  success, 
sometimes  by  failure,  sometimes  by  guessing 
what  it  might  be,  sometimes  by  seeing  what 
it  could  not  be,  we  step  by  step  press  on. 
The  man  who  would  pull  down  a  wall  finds 
it  difficult  to  make  a  start,  but  when  he  has 
once  got  his  pick  fairly  into  a  joint  the  first 
brick  is  presently  got  out,  and  then  all  the 
others  follow,  every  brick  removed  making 
the  work  easier.  The  first  insertion  of  the 
quarryman's  wedge  wants  considerable  skill; 
blow  after  blow  of  the  swinging  hammers 
fall    swiftly    then    upon   it,    and    each    tells, 


OH  CIPHER-WRITING  1 15 

until  presently  tlie  great  block  of  many  tons 
in  weight  is  riven  in  twain. 

In  the  Gentleman^ s  Magazine  for  the  year 
1742  will  be  found  an  interesting  series  of 
papers  on  the  art  of  deciphering,  entitled 
"  Gryptographia  denudata,*^  the  author  being 
David  Arnold  Conradus.  After  a  general 
introduction  he  first  proceeds,  curiously 
enough,  in  an  English  magazine,  to  an 
exposition  of  the  German  language,  point- 
ing out  the  characteristic  recurrences  of 
letters,  terminations  of  words,  and  so  forth, 
by  which  one  may  attack  a  cryptogram 
in  that  language.  He  then  proceeds  with 
equal  thoroughness  to  analyse  the  Dutch 
language,  then  the  Latin,  English,  French, 
Italian,  and  Greek.  He  writes  :  "  The  Art  of 
Deciphering  being  an  abstruse  Subject  I  pur- 
pose in  this  Attempt  to  explain  it  with 
Accuracy  and  Perspicuity,  and  I  doubt  not 
by  this  Undertaking  both  of  gratifying  the 
Curiosity  of  the   Inquisitive,   and  of    convinc- 


Il6  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

ing  tliose  of  tlie  Certainty  of  the  Art  who 
have  hitherto  questioned  it.  There  are  to  be 
found  Men  of  uncommon  Capacity  who  are 
ready  to  assert  with  great  Confidence  that 
no  Success  is  to  be  expected  from  Enquiries 
so  doubtful  and  uncertain  in  their  Nature. 
There  are  these  whose  Credulity  and  Super- 
stition set  them  almost  below  Mention,  who 
pronounce  no  less  positively  that  the  Inter- 
pretation of  private  Characters,  if  it  ever  can 
be  attained,  is  the  effect  of  Magic.  The  Art 
of  Deciphering  is  the  Practice  of  interpreting 
Writings  composed  of  Secret  Characters,  so 
that  the  true  sense  and  words  of  the  Writer 
shall  be  exactly  known.  This  Art,  however 
difficult  it  may  appear,  will  be  admired  for 
its  Simplicity  and  the  Ease  with  which  it  may 
be  attained,  when  the  Theory  of  it  is  under- 
stood, which  depends  upon  many  certain  and 
a  few  probable  Propositions.  The  Usefulness 
of  Arts  by  w^hich  suspected  and  dangerous 
Correspondences  may   be  detected   cannot   be 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  II7 

denied,  nor  is  it  a  small  Incitement  to  tlie 
Study  of  it  that  those  who  profess  it  are  em- 
ployed by  Princes,  in  time  of  War  particularly, 
and  rewarded  with  the  utmost  Liberality. 

**  He  that  engages  in  this  Study  is  supposed 
to  be  previously  furnished  with  various  kinds 
of  Knowledge.  He  must  be  in  the  first  Place 
Master  of  Orthography,  that  we  may  know 
what  Letters  are  required  for  each  Word.  He 
should  be  acquainted  with  several  Languages, 
and  particularly  Latin,  which  is  most  fre- 
quently made  use  of  in  secret  Writings;  and 
he  will  be  a  greater  Master  of  this  Art  in  pro- 
portion as  his  Knowledge  of  Languages  is 
more  extensive;  for  the  Decipherer  has  to 
determine  what  the  Language  is,  in  which  the 
secret  Writing  is  composed,  whether  Latin, 
French,  or  any  other ;  and  by  this  Art  are  to 
be  discovered  the  peculiar  Characteristics  of 
each  Language. 

"It  is  likewise  necessary  to  understand  at 
least  the  Elements   of  various   Sciences,  that 


Il8  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

the  Sense  of  any  Passage  may  be  more  easily 
discovered,  and  one  word  contribute  to  tlie 
Explication  of  anotliei*.  Cryptograpliy,  or 
the  Art  of  writing  in  Ciphers,  must  likewise 
be  understood,  by  which  so  many  Artifices 
are  jDracticed,  so  many  intricate  Alphabets 
formed,  and  so  many  Expedients  for  Secrecy 
produced  as  requires  the  utmost  Acuteness 
to  detect  and  explain.  Upon  the  whole  as 
a  Man  advances  in  Learning  he  becomes 
better  qualified  for  a  Decipherer. 

"By  Accuracy  of  Method  and  a  just  De- 
duction of  Particulars  from  Generals,  is  our 
Art  exalted  into  a  Science,  consisting  of  cer- 
tain and  indubitable  Propositions,  from  whence 
the  Rules  are  drawn,  which  are  to  be  used 
as  Clues  in  the  Labyrinth  of  Cryptography." 

Truly  our  author  magnifies  his  subject! 
He  who  would  shine  in  it  would  be  a  man 
who  might  have  been  Solicitor-General  or 
Primate  of  all  England  had  he  not  chosen 
the  path  of  the  cryptographic  expert  I 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  II9 

His  rules  spring  rather  quaintly  from  his 
propositions.  Thus  the  proposition  says  "In 
a  Writing  of  any  Length  the  same  Letters 
recur  several  times."  Then  the  rule  says 
"Writings  of  Length  are  most  easy  to  de- 
cipher, because  there  are  more  Opportunities 
of  remarking  the  Combination,  Frequency, 
etc.,  of  the  Letters."  One  would  have 
thought  the  proposition  suflSciently  clear  to  a 
man  of  ordinary  intelligence,  without  need  of 
what  is  practically  a  repetition  of  it :  merely 
old  matter  under  a  new  name.  Another 
proposition  says  that  "  The  Vowels  are 
four  times  outnumbered  by  the  Consonants, 
the  Vowels  must  therefore  recur  most  fre- 
quently." The  rule  that  is  based  on  this  is 
as  follows :  "  The  Letters  that  recur  most  fre- 
quently are  Vowels." 

Some  of  his  suggestions  are  very  good, 
while  others  do  not  seem  so  very  helpful  after 
all.  Thus  we  are  gravely  told,  if  the  writ- 
ing be  in  Dutch  any  three-letter  word  must 


1 20  CR  YPTOGRAPHY 

either  be  aal  or  aap,  aan,  aen,  als,  amt,  arm, 
arg,  ast,  bad,  baf,  bak,  bal,  ban,  bas,  bed, 
bef,  bek,  bel,  ben,  bes,  bid,  bik,  bil,  bit,  bly, 
bok,  bol,  bon,  bos,  bot,  bry,  bul,  bus,  dag, 
dam,  dan,  das,  dat,  dek,  den,  der,  des,  die, 
dik,  dis,  dit,  doe,  dog,  dol,  dop,  dor,  dun, 
dur,  djk,  een,  eer,  eet,  elf,  elk,  end,  erf, 
eva,  fjn,  gal,  gat,  gek,  git,  plus  one  hundred 
and  eiglity-two  more  right  away  through 
the  alphabet  till  we  pull  up  finally  at  zyn. 
Whether  this  list  of  all  three-letter  words 
be  at  all  exhaustive,  our  ignorance  of  Dutch 
forbids  us  to  say;  but  in  the  English  section 
he  roundly  declares  that  any  three-letter 
word  in  that  language  must,  at  all  events, 
be  one  out  of  the  list  of  one  hundred  and 
eight  that  he  gives.  On  looking  over  this 
list,  however,  one  quickly  notes  many  omis- 
sions. The  words,  for  instance,  beginning 
with  M  that  he  gives  are  mad,  man,  may, 
and  men ;  but  to  these  we  may  at  once  add 
mar,  mat,  map,   maw,  met,   mew,   mid,  mob. 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING  121 

mop,  mow,  mud,  and  mug.  As  we  have 
thus  readily  amplified  his  four  words  under 
only  one  initial  letter  into  sixteen,  it  will 
readily  be  seen  that  the  same  treatment  all 
through  the  alphabet  would  prodigiously  in- 
crease his  grand  total  of  one  himdred  and 
eight.  His  formula  to  be  of  practical  use 
should  therefore  be  extended  into — "Any 
word  of  three  letters  will  be  found  to  be 
one  of  the  following  one  hundred  and  eight, 
unless,  perchance,  it  may  be  one  out  of  the 
many  scores  of  other  three-letter  words  that 
we  have  omitted  to  include  in  our  list."  Be- 
sides, in  any  case,  the  list  is  utterly  useless. 
If  it  were  possible  to  say  that  any  three- 
letter  word  must  necessarily  decipher  into 
"  and,"  or  "  the,"  or  "  but,"  the  hint  would  be 
a  most  valuable  one ;  but  when  one  can  go  no 
further  than  to  say  that  it  is  either  one  of 
those  three,  or,  more  probably,  one  out  of 
a  list  of  four  or  five  hundred  other  words, 
the    help    given    is,    after   all,    not    of    great 


122  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

value.  Setting  up  as  some  little  autliority 
on  tlie  matter  ourselves,  we  may  add  to 
these  rules  of  Conrad's  one  wliicli  lie  seems 
to  have  overlooked :  that  all  words  be- 
ginning with  H  will  be  found  to  be  either 
horse  or  hallelujah,  or  else  one  of  the  hun- 
dreds of  other  words  that  commence  with 
that  letter. 

The  letter  E  is  the  commonest  in  use  of  all 
the  letters,  not  only  in  English  but  in  all  of 
the  European  languages.  Statistical  enthusi- 
asts assert  that  out  of  every  thousand  letters 
in  any  ordinary  page  of  prose,  one  hundred 
and  thirty-seven  of  them  will  in  English  be 
this  letter.  This  is  a  matter  that  our 
readers,  who  are  statistic  and  enthusiastic, 
can  at  once  check  from  the  page  before 
them,  if,  indeed,  we  may  assume  it  to  fulfil 
the  conditions  named,  and  not  sink  beneath 
even  ordinary  prose.  In  a  French  book  the 
letter  E  should  occur  about  one  hundred 
and     eighty-four     times     per      thousand,     a 


OR  CIPHER- WRITING  123 

mucli  larger  proportion  than  in  English; 
wliile  the  German  language  runs  the  French 
very  close,  being  one  hundred  and  seventy- 
eight  per  thousand.  Spanish  and  Italian 
are  about^  the.  same  in  this  respect  as  Eng- 
lish; one  hundred  and  thirty-one  per  thou- 
sand being  assigned  to  Itahan,  while  in 
Spanish  the  letter  E  occurs  one  hundred 
and  forty-five  times.  Of  course,  all  these 
numbei*s  are  necessarily  only  approximate. 
The  only  letters  of  which  more  than  ten  per 
cent,  occur  are  the  I,  iS",  and  0 ;  the  former 
coming  out  in  Italian  at  about  one  hundred 
and  three  per  thousand,  the  N  at  about  one 
hundred  and  ten  in  German,  and  the  0  at 
about  one  hundred  and  seven  in  each  thou- 
sand letters  used  in  Italian  and  Spanish 
writing  and  printing. 

An  old  fellow  we  once  met,  and  who 
^prided  himself  on  being  rather  clever  at  this 
art  or  science  of  decipherment,  told  us  that 
he  had,  for   the   fun   of   the   thing,  joined  in 


124  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

some  of  tlie  "  agony-column "  advertisements 
in  tlie  newspapers,  to  the  great  perplexity 
of      tlie      original     correspondents,    and     he 


CL 

f\x 

NQ 

SW 

HM 

TZ 

CE 

PU 

AJ 

+  XIE 

<LFruu->v->Li+ri:Fi:E 

D->]-|-n<->LCEX<nUElX 

(uriAnrc+A<]iLEx+F 

Fig.  13. 

further  ventured  the  rather  rash  remark 
to  us  that  he  could  unravel  any  cryp- 
togram. On  this  we  sent  him  a  message 
that  had  not  a  single  E  in  it,  as  we 
knew  that  this  letter  was  the  first  he  would 


OR  CIPHER-WRITING 


125 


endeavour  to  get  hold  of;  and  the  final  out- 
come might  be  considered  a  confession  that 
he  was  beaten — at  least,  he  never  replied  to 
our  communication.  The  form  of  crjptogi'am 
we  employed  is  rather  a  good  one,  and  we 
have  often  used  it  on  postcards,  etc.  Pro- 
bably most  of  our  readers  in  their  school- 
days have  playc^d  "  noughts  and  crosses " 
when  they  ought  to  have  been  devoting  their 
time  instead  to  one  of  the  subjects  set  down 
in  the  curriculum.  Set  out,  then,  two  hori- 
zontal and  two  vertical  lines,  as  shown  in 
the  upper  part  of  Fig.  13,  and  place  in  the 
spaces  made  by  them  the  various  letters  of 
the  alphabet  in  pairs,  so  far  as  they  will 
go.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  it  will  use  up 
eighteen  of  them.  Then  place  two  other 
lines  X-wise,  as  we  may  see,  to  the  right 
of  the  previous  arrangement,  and  in  the 
four  intervening  spaces  that  these  make 
place,  also  in  pairs,  the  remaining  eight 
letters.      These  letters  may    be    arranged  in 


126 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


any  order.  Should  it  at  any  time  appear 
that  some  unauthorized  person  has  pene- 
trated the  mystery,  it  would  merely  be 
necessary  to  shift  the  letters  and  start 
happily   again.     This    shifting   would    be    ar- 


PW 

EC 

KY 

UH 

LS 

^R 

ZD 

QT 

IM 

JECtXCVVUJREnEE 

v<">idECR]acnr<">Q+ 

Fig.  14. 

ranged  as  follows : — On  counting  the  pairs 
of  letters,  we  find,  of  course,  that  there  are 
thirteen.  Two  in  the  first  space,  two  in  the 
second,  and  so  on.  Our  present  arrange- 
ment is   1CL2RX3NQ,  and    so  forth.     It 


OR   CIPHER-WRITING  1 27 

is  evident  that  if  we  merely  sent  our  corre- 
spondent the  new  formula,  'as  IP  W2  E& 
3KY,  any  unauthorized  person  into  whose 
hands  it  fell  might  reconstruct  it.  To  avoid 
this,  we  should  not  place  our  figures  in  the 
ordinary  numerical  order,  and  we  should  use 
others  beyond  the  thirteen.  These  would  be 
non-significants,  and  any  letters  that  fol- 
lowed them  we  should,  on  receipt,  merely 
run  our  pens  through.  We  have  in  the 
upper  part  of  Fig.  14  given  the  new  com- 
bination, and  the  formula  for  it  might  run  as 
follows:  12FO370J5LS91OEA91M4UH,  and 
so  forth.  We  should,  on  getting  this,  draw 
out  the  skeleton  lines  and  lightly  number 
the  spaces,  and  then  proceed  to  construct 
our  key,  putting  FO  in  the  twelfth  space,  LS 
in  the  fifth,  taking  no  notice  of  the  CJ,  as 
we  have  no  thirty-seventh  space  to  put  it  in. 
To  use  this  cryptogram,  we  must  note  the 
shapes  the  lines  make.  The  central  space  in 
the   upper  left-hand    diagram   in    Fig.    13    is 


128  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

clearly  a  square;  tlie  space  above  would  be 
a  square,  except  that  it  has  no  top  line ; 
the  space  to  right  of  it  is  also  a  three- 
line  figure,  the  square  being  incomplete  for 
want  of  the  right-hand  line  ;  and  the  same 
applies  to  the  space  below,  to  the  left 
and  so  on  all  round.  The  X-like  figure 
gives  us  a  Y-like  form  at  top,  a  reversed  V 
at  base,  and  two  other  Y's  that  are  turned 
sideways.  For  the  first  letter  in  each  space 
we  merely  draw  that  space;  thus  H  is  a 
square,  and  the  second  letter  we  represent 
by  a  dot  in  the  space.  Below  the  X-like 
cross  we  have  placed  four  forms  that  are 
merely  dummies  for  use  where  we  please; 
and  such  little -used  forms  as  those  for  J,  X, 
or  Z  may  be  also  thus  employed,  as  any  one 
receiving  and  reading  off  the  message  would 
readily  detect  their  non-essential  character. 
In  the  lower  half  of  Fig.  13  is  the  mes- 
sage we  send  by  it — "  On  arriving  at  this 
point    our    Frank    sat    down."      Below    the 


OK,  CIPHER-WRITING  1 29 

second  combination,  Fig.  14,  we  j)lace  an- 
other communication;  but  this  our  readers, 
with  the  key  before  them,  should  find  no 
ditficultv  in  deciphering  for  themselves,  so 
we  leave  it  to  them. 

The  following  is  from  an  advertisement  in 
one  of  the  London  daily  papers,  the  Standard 
of  April  14th,  1892  :— 

SN  NADX.— H  vhkk  miis  rzx  vgzs  li 
gzud  sgntfgs, — Nq  vgzs  rvdds  sghmfr 
Izx  qhrd  tmrntfgs. — He  h  bntkc  nmkx  ad 
pthsd  rtqd, — H  sghmj  h'c  cqno  tonm  sgd 
ektqd !— AKZQMDX. 

It  is  of  very  easy  construction,  each  letter 
being  merely  one  forward  in  reality  from  the 
one  here  given,  so  that  what  is  B  is  really 
A,  what  is  Y  is  really  W,  and  so  on.  It 
is  the  poetic  effusion  of  one  "  Blarney " 
(AKZQMDX).     It  read  as  follows  :— 

"  I  will  not  say  what  I  have  thought, 
Or  what  sweet  things  may  rise  unsought. 
If  I  could  only  be  quite  sure, 
I  think  I'd  drop  upon  the  flare." 

In  the  following  from  the  Times,  two  letters 

I 


130  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

ahead  of  the  real  one  are  used  : — *'  Ngv  og 
mpqy  aqw  ctg  uchg  cpf  gcug  oa  vqtvwtgf 
okpf,"  meaning,  "  Let  me  know  you  are  safe, 
and  ease  my  tortured  mind." 

In  another  limes  notice  F  was  substituted 
for  A,  Gr  for  B,  etc.  The  story  involved  must 
have  been  a  very  sad  one,  and  much  sickness 
of  heart  was  evident  in  its  appeal.  Three 
days  later  appeared  in  the  same  cipher  the 
intimation,  "  I  know  you,"  evidently  the  work 
of  some  third  person,  and  the  correspondence 
at  once  came  to  an  end.  That  this  penetra- 
tion into  matters  deemed  secret  must  often 
take  place  is  evident  from  intimations  that 
one  not  unfrequently  sees  that  a  certain  ad- 
vertisement referred  to  was  not  inserted  by 
the  person  whose  name  or  other  sign  it  bore. 
We  may  perhaps  be  allowed  to  say  here 
that  the  illustrations  of  decipherment  we 
have  here  given  are  published  examples,^  that 

1  From    an    American    book    of   the    "  Curiosities    of 
Literature  "  type. 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  131 

in  tlie  case  of  the  third  we  have  foreborne  to 
give  the  details,  and  that  our  strong  feehng 
is  that  while  those  who  make  use  of  crypto- 
graphy do  it  at  their  own  risk,  and  in  some 
measure  may  be  thought  to  be  issuing  a  chal- 
lenge to  bnsybodies,^  that  nevertheless  to  pry 
into  matters  that  do  not  concern  one  is  a 
base  and  ungenerous  thing  to  do ;  that  to 
decipher  a  communication  not  intended  for 
ourselves  is  on  a  par  with  reading  a  letter 
that  may  be  lying  about,  listening  to  a  con- 
versation not  intended  for  us,  or  any  other 
such  meanness. 

Some  advertisements  are  so  abbreviated,  as 
so  much  business  or  sentiment  has  to  be  got 
into  so  narrow  a  space,  that  they  verge  on 
the  cryptographic  without  any  such  intention 
— as,  for  instance,  "  so  hpy  in  nw  lime,  so 
thnkf  an  mre  hpfl  fr  yr  ftre." 

^  A  term  a  little  wanting  in  accuracy,  as  used  gene- 
rally to  define  those  who  have  no  proper  work  to  busy 
themselves  with,  or  who,  having  it,  neglect  it  to  attend 
to  that  of  others. 


132  CR  YPTOGRAPHY 

Several  forms  of  cryptographic  writing  may 
readily  be  devised,  not  by  changing  the  various 
letters  into  others,  but  retaining  them  as 
they  are,  a  being  a,  b  remaining  b,  and  simply 
mixing  them  up  with  other  letters  that  are 
merely  blinds.  Thus  we  may  determine  that 
alternate  letters,  say  the  second,  fourth,  sixtb, 
and  so  on,  shall  be  the  significants,  the  carriers 
of  the  message.  For  instance,  if  we  desire 
to  send  the  following  communication,  "  Get 
away  at  once,"  it  would  read  as  "  Lgpestra 
rwnapyi  astro  eniciel."  We  could  break  it 
up  into  any  arbitrary  groups  of  letters  or 
run  it  all  into  one ;  thus  it  might  read, 
Egoentlavwxalyvaft  Polnjcien.  In  either  case 
all  we  should  need  to  do  to  decipher  it  would 
be  to  run  our  pen  through  all  the  odd  num- 
bers and  then  read  off  what  was  left,  or 
put,  as  done  here,  a  dot  under  each  letter 
that  is  to  count.  It  just  doubles  the  length 
of  the  communication,  a  message  of  thirty 
letters  requiring  another  thirty  to  conceal  it. 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 33 

111  substitution  for  this  we  may  make  the 
first  letter  of  the  first  word,  the  second  of 
the  second,  and  the  third  of  the  third,  the 
significant  letters,  beginning  again  at  the  first 
of  the  next,  then  the  second  of  the  following 
one,  and  so  on.  "  Get  away  at  once "  would 
then  read,  "go  pey  rst  al  Iwn  afa  yon  ta  sft 
of  pn  loc  ei."  By  this  means  we  have  to 
employ  a  considerable  number  of  non-signifi- 
cants. This  is  certainly  a  drawback,  and  it 
would  in  an  especial  degree  be  felt  to  be  so 
the   message   to  be    conveyed  were   at   all 

lengthy  one.     Such  devices,   however,  have 
['  the   advantage   that   the   letters   employed   to 
;pell  out  the  communication  are  the  real  letters, 
'here  is   no   need  to  learn  a  code  of  substi- 
tuted  characters,  and  one  is  also    spared  the 
shance  of  error  that  may  spring  from  the  use 
such  a  code. 

In  the  far-famed  Cocker's  ^  "  Decimal,  Loofa- 

^  "  According  to  Cocker,"  i.e.,  au  accuracy  of  statement 
mtirelj  beyond  question.  The  phrase  occurs  in  a  farce 
called  The  Apprentice,  and  hit  the  popular  fancy. 


134  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

rithmical,  and  Algebraical  Arithmetick,"  pub- 
lislied  in  tlie  year  1684,  we  find,  following 
the  preface,  a  letter  in  cipher.  All  the  vowels 
in  this  remain  unchanged;  A  is  A,  and  E 
is  E,  neither  more  nor  less;  and  if  we  replace 
B.O.D.F.G.H.K.L.M.N.P.R.S.T.W.X.Z.  by 
Z.X.W.T.S.R.P.N.M.L.K.H.G.F.D.C.B.— a 
mere  reversal  of  the  ordinary  arrangement 
of  the  consonants, — we  shall  find  no  difficulty 
in  reading  the  letter.  By  this  code  Constan- 
tinople would  be  XOLGFALFILOKNE. 

In  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  for  1761  we 
find  a  rather  interesting  letter  from  a  man  who 
flatters  himself  that  he  has  devised  an  abso- 
lutely safe  cryptogram.  He  declares  that 
"  when  the  present  war  was  ready  to  break 
out,  a  gentleman,  not  versed  in  secret 
alphabets,  but  chancing  to  think  upon  the 
subject,  happened  to  hit  upon  a  kind  of 
cipher,  the  properties  of  which  appeared 
very  extraordinary,  not  only  to  him  but 
also  to  some  of   his  friends  not  apt  to  make 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 35 

rasli  conclusions.  He  therefore  without  de- 
lay endeavoured  to  convey  notice  of  liis  in- 
vention to  his  late  Majesty  :  judging  it  might 
prove  advantageous  to  the  Royal  Measures 
during  a  great  and  critical  war  to  be  waged 
at  once  in  so  many  and  so  removed  parts  of 
the  world.  But  this  attempt,  and  likewise  a 
second,  had  no  effect. 

"  In  the  meantime  some  of  his  friends,  solici- 
tous to  know  the  real  merits  of  this  cipher, 
procured  that  different  specimens  of  it  should, 
together  with  a  brief  detail  of  its  properties, 
be  laid  before  his  Majesty's  chief  decipherer 
(esteemed  the  best  in  the  world),  requesting 
that  he  would  be  pleased  to  let  them  know 
whether  he  could  or  could  not  read  those 
specimens,  and  begging  his  opinion  upon  the 
whole  affair.  The  candid  artist,  having  taken 
due  time  to  peruse  those  writings,  made 
answer  that  he  could  not  read  them,  and 
that  if  they  actually  possessed  the  properties 
ascribed    to    them   there    could   be   no    doubt 


136  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

about  the  importance  of  sucli  an  art.  But 
it  was  not  his  business  to  meddle  further  in 
it. 

"It  occurred  to  tlie  author,  when  he  had 
failed  of  making  this  art  ad\^antageous  to  the 
British  dominions,  that  he  could  easily  sell 
it  upon  the  Continent;  and,  probably,  for  a 
sum  not  inferior  to  a  large  Parliamentary  re- 
ward, to  which  many  thought  it  entitled.  But 
upon  consulting  his  principles  he  found  that 
no  crowned  head  of  Europe  was  rich  enough 
to  purchase  from  him  an  advantage  over  the 
monarch  of  his  own  country. 

"  Thus  disappointed  both  at  home  and  abroad, 
and  reflecting  that  this  secret  may  happen, 
by  lying  by,  to  be  buried  with  him,  he  set 
himself  to  consider  what  to  do  with  it,  and 
hath  now  at  length  he  thinks  hit  upon  the 
best  means  of  making  it  useful,  and  this 
method  is,  to  pubhsh  it  to  all  the  world.'' 

A  century  later,  we  may  parenthetically 
presume   that   had   the    matter   got   so  far  as 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 37 

this,  he  would  have  pocketed  a  handsome  sum 
in  promotion  money,  and  been  entitled  to  a 
seat  on  the  directorate,  while  the  rest  of  us 
would  have  been  inundated  with  prospectuses 
of  the  Universal  Cryptogram  Company, 
Limited. 

He  goes  on  to  say  that  "  at  first  he 
saw  several  objections  to  this  step,  but  they 
disappeared  as  soon  as  the  following  rea- 
sons presented  themselves,  viz.  :  First,  that 
the  Supreme  Wisdom  hath  locked  up  every 
man's  secrets,  good  and  bad,  in  his  own 
breast.  Secondly,  that  human  wisdom  hath 
imitated  the  Supreme,  by  inflicting  punish- 
ment on  those  who  unlawfully  break  open 
secrets  or  letters.  Thirdly,  that  after  the  pub- 
lication of  this  art  Governments  will  still  have 
it  as  much  in  their  power  as  ever  to  suppress 
all  suspected  writings,  while  every  man's  busi- 
ness and  private  concerns  shall  be  no  further 
exposed  in  what  he  writes  than  he  chuses. 
And   this,   the   inventor   imagines,  will   prove 


13^  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

of  singular  convenience  and  advantage  to 
mankind,  who  daily  suffer  from  the  insidious 
practice  of  intercepting  and  counteracting  not 
only  private  instructions  upon  lawful  busi- 
ness, but  even  the  most  important  dispatches 
of  nations.^ 

"  These  are  the  principal  reasons  that  deter- 
mined the  author  to  publish  this  art ;  but, 
still  diffident  of  his  own  judgment,  he  hath 
made  the  two  following  observations,  viz.  : 
First,  that  in  case  a  true  representation  of 
this  cipher  should  speedily  be  laid  before  the 
king;  and  that  his  Majesty  should  thereupon 
be  pleased  to  command  the  author  to  appear 
and  demonstrate  the  properties  he  attributes 
to  it,  then  will  the  author  cheerfully  obey,  and 
rejoice  in  the  honour  of  arming  his  Majesty's 
hand  with  so  advantageous  a  weapon.  And 
he  would  much  rather  chuse  thus  to  devote 
this  art  to  the  particular  service  of  his  country 

^  Surely  in  the  breast  of  a  patriot  these  two  should 
be  transposed,  and  the  national  interest  placed  first. 


OR,    CIPHER-WRITING  1 39 

than  to  that  of  his  fellow-creatures  in  general ; 
For,  he  is  not  (as  some  style  themselves)  a 
citizen  of  the  world,  nor  ever  will  be,  till 
the  world  becomes  one  city.  Again,  he  will 
never  publish  this  secret  till  he  hath  given 
six  months'  notice  previously  of  his  intention 
to  do  so.  And,  if  during  those  six  months 
gentlemen  of  sense  and  knowledge  will  be  so 
good  as  to  publish  reasons  proving  that  more 
evil  than  good  will  result  from  the  publica- 
tion of  this  secret,  then  will  the  author  resolve 
that  it  shall  be  buried  with  him.  For  he 
detests  the  thought  of  extending  the  catalogue 
of  human  ills.  But,  if  no  sufficient  reasons 
to  the  contrary  shall  appear,  he  will  then 
think  it  his  duty  to  publish  it  without  further 
delay.  Query  then,  whether  more  evil  or 
more  good  will  result  from  such  a  publica- 
tion ? 

"  The  properties  of  the  said  Cipher.  Firstly, 
it  can  be  wrote  offhand  in  the  common 
characters.     Secondly,  it  can  be  read  at  sight. 


140  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Thirdly,  the  secrets  both  of  writing  and  read- 
ing it  are  so  simple  that  they  can,  in  five 
minutes'  time,  be  so  perfectly  communicated 
that  the  person  instructed  shall  be  able,  with- 
out further  help  or  any  previous  practice, 
to  write  offhand  and  read  at  sight  as  above 
set  forth.  Fourthly,  though  all  the  men  in 
the  world  were  perfect  masters  of  the  art  of 
reading  and  writing  this  cipher,  yet  could  any 
two  of  them,  by  agreement  upon  a  small 
variation  (to  be  made  at  will),  correspond  with 
impenetrable  secrecy,  though  their  letters  were 
to  pass  open  through  the  hands  of  all  the 
rest.  Fifthly,  it  is  strictly  impossible  for  all 
the  art  of  man  to  read  it  except  the  reader 
be  in  confidence  with  the  writer.  N.B. — That 
the  author  thinks  it  may  be  demonstrated  that 
there  never  hath  been  invented,  and  that  it 
is  impossible  to  invent,  another  cipher  that 
shall  not  be  inferior  to  this  by  many  de- 
grees. 

"  An  invaluable  advantage  of  this  cipher,  in 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  I41 

tlie  hands  of  a  prince,  is  that  he  can  with 
ease  and  expedition  write  his  own  letters  in 
it,  with  no  necessity  of  exposing  their  con- 
tents to  ciphering  and  deciphering  clerks,  first 
at  home,  and  next  abroad ;  or  to  any  person 
whatever,  except  the  individual  to  whom  he 
writes.  Another  advantage  is,  that  a  prince, 
master  of  it,  can  himself  change  his  cipher 
every  day  at  will,  and  make,  at  the  same  time, 
every  variation  a  new  cipher,  absolutely  im- 
penetrable even  to  those  who  are  masters  of 
this  art,  and  to  all  human  sagacity. 

"  This  art,  if  judged  useful  to  the  crown  of 
these  realms,  should  be  first  communicated 
to  the  king  only :  that  he  may  be  the  sole 
possessor  of  it,  and  so  have  it  in  his  power 
to  disperse  it  to  such  of  his  ministers  abroad 
only  as  his  Majesty  shall  have  occasion  to 
intrust  with  his  most  important  communica- 
tions. And  the  use  of  it  ought  to  be  reserved 
for  such  occasions,  that  it  may  be  communi- 
cated to  as  few  as  possible,  and  so  be   kept 


142  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

for  an  arcanum  imperii.  It  should  be  made 
death  and  total  confiscation  for  any  man  to 
betray  this  secret  communicated  to  them  by 
the  king;  and  to  the  author  also,  should  he 
betray  it  after  he  hath  given  it  up  to  his 
Majesty. 

"  The  toil  and  delays  attending  the  best 
ciphers  hitherto  invented  are  an  intolerable 
clog  upon  the  dispatches  of  Courts.  And  we 
see,  by  most  of  the  letters  taken  this  war, 
that  it  hath  been  resolved  rather  to  pen  them 
in  plain  writing  than  to  subject  them  to  such 
ruinous  delays.  This  cipher  is  exempt  from 
all  such  toil  and  delay.  The  best  ciphers 
hitherto  invented  and  found  fit  for  business 
are  held,  by  the  best  authorities  upon  the 
subject,  legible  by  an  able  artist.  And  this 
must  be  true  :  For,  otherwise,  princes  would 
not,  at  a  great  expense,  keep  able  decipherers. 
This  cipher  is,  in  every  variation  of  it,  im- 
pervious to  all  human  penetration.  The  author 
hath  never  yet  communicated  the  art  of  this 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 43 

cipher  to  any  mortal;  nor  indeed  ever  will, 
except  to  the  king  only,  or  to  mankind  in 
general ;  unless  a  dangerous  sickness  should 
happen  to  oblige  him  to  reveal  them  to  a  select 
friend,  in  order  to  prevent  them  being  lost 
for  ever." 

Whether  this  were  so  all  potent  an  instru- 
ment as  the  inventor  thought  must  for  ever 
remain  a  moot  point,  as  the  king  evidently  did 
not  respond  to  the  advances  made.  Parliament 
did  not  give  the  large  reward  hinted  at,  nor 
was  the  Limited  Company  ever  started  where- 
by the  secret  should  be  kept  inviolate,  as 
he  himself  suggested,  by  the  whole  world 
being  told  it.  Perhaps  the  dangerous  sick- 
ness was  too  rapid  in  its  progress  to  allow 
the  summons  to  the  select  friend,  or  in  view  of 
the  realities  of  Eternity  all  mundane  objects, 
even  the  great  cipher  itself,  may  have  shrunk 
into  insignificance,  or  a  sudden  accident  may 
have  befallen  him  and  at  once  made  all 
notification  of   his    secret   a  thing  impossible. 


144  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

However  this  may  have  been,  we  have  the 
sufficient  fact  that  all  clue  to  the  wondrous 
cryptogram  is  for  ever  lost. 

It  was  long  illegal  to  publish  the  debates  of 
Parliament.  In  the  various  series  of  the 
Gentleman's  Magazine  we  find  "  Proceedings 
in  the  Senate  of  great  Lilliput"  running  at 
considerable  length  all  through  the  volumes. 
The  names  of  the  speakers  are  veiled,  but  at 
the  end  of  the  volume  we  have  an  "  Analysis 
of  the  Names  of  the  Hurgoes,  Climabs,  etc.,  of 
Lilliput,"  in  which  both  the  assumed  and  real 
names  are  given.  Hurgo  is  a  Lord,  and 
Climab  is  a  member  of  the  House  of  Commons ; 
a  debate  therefore  in  which  Hurgoes  Castroflet, 
Shomlug,  Toblat,  Adonbring,  and  Guadrert 
spoke  was  really  carried  on  by  Lords 
Chesterfield,  Cholmondeley,  Talbot,  Abingdon, 
and  Cartaret.  One  can  only  wonder  that 
such  a  very  palpable  evasion  of  the  law  should 
have  been  thus  winked  at. 

Eeaders  of  the  weird  tales  of  Edgar  Allen 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  145 

Poe  will  recall  the  great  use  of  cryjDtograplij 
in  the  story  of  "  The  Gold  Bug,"  where  a  Mr. 
liegrancl  of  South  Carolina  becomes  possessed 
of  an  enormous  treasure  ^  of  gold  coins  of 
antique  date,  and  great  variety,  one  himdred 
and  ten  exceedingly  fine  diamonds,  eighteen 
rubies  of  remarkable  brilliancy,  three  hundred 
and  ten  emeralds,  besides  sapphires,  opals  un- 
countable, and  all  by  means  of  an  old  parch- 
ment with  some  mysterious  writing  thereon. 
Should  any  of  our  readers  up  to  this  point  have 
applied  the  cm  bono  argument  to  our  book, 
this  good  fortune  of  Mr.  Legrand  should  be  a 
convincing  proof  of  the  value  of  a  knowledge 
of  cryptography  ! 

The  treasure  in  question  was  supposed 
to  be  a  part  of  the  plunderings  of  the  notor- 
ious pirate  Kidd.  Half  buried  in  the  sea 
sand,  in  close  proximity  to  a  wreck,  a   piece 

^  "  We  estimated  the  entire  contents  of  the  chest  at  a 
million  and  a  half  of  dollars,  and  upon  the  subsequent  dis- 
posal of  the  trinkets  and  jewels  it  was  found  that  we  had 
greatly  undervalued  the  treasure." 

K 


146  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

of  parchment  was  found,  and  on  this  some  few 
mysterious  markings  were  noted.  On  the 
application  of  heat  this  parchment  revealed 
some  three  or  four  lines  of  cryptogram,  and 
the  hero  of  the  story  sets  himself  to  the  task 
of  its  decipherment.  It  proves  to  be  the  clue 
to  the  burial  place  of  a  treasure.  The  direc- 
tions, duly  followed,  bring  Legrand  and  two 
helpers  to  a  particular  tree  in  the  tropic  forest, 
and  then  at  a  certain  distance  and  direction 
from  this  conspicuous  tree  a  vigorous  digging 
presently  brings  to  light  the  massive  chest 
which  holds  this  ill-gotten  wealth.  The 
piratical  vessel  was  lost  and  the  scoundrels  that 
manned  it  drowned,  and  the  memorandum  found 
by  a  mere  chance  on  the  desolate  shore  of 
Sullivan's  Island  was  the  means  of  bringing  to 
knowledge  the  hidden  booty.  The  story  itself, 
with  its  weird  accompaniments  of  skeletons, 
its  midnight  delvings,  and  so  forth,  can  be  read 
at  length  by  those  who  care  to  hunt  it  up  in 
any  collection  of   Poe's  works ;    all    that  now 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 47 

concerns  us  is  the  cryptograph  round  Avhich 
the  story  turns.  This  also  we  need  not  set 
out  in  detail,  as  it  is  given  in  full  length  in  the 
story.  The  weak  point  in  it  is  that  it  is  not 
at  all  the  sort  of  cipher  that  a  pirate  captain 
would  concoct,  while  it  is  exactly  what  a 
literary  man,  with  an  eye  to  the  possibilities 
of  the  printing  press,  would  put  together* 
Thus  we  find  the  dagger  (t)  representing  D, 
the  asterisk  (*)  standing  for  N,  the  double 
dagger  {%)  being  0.  The  parenthesis  mark,  (, 
is  E,  and  the  semicolon  (;)  is  representative  of 
T.  The  interrogation  mark  (?),  the  Tf,  and  the 
colon  also  appear.  The  message  commences 
in  this  fashion — 

53Ut305))6*;4826)4t 
The    decipherment   of    this    abstruse    memor- 
andum is  very  well  worked  out  in  the  story. 

That  some  people  still  believe  in  a  present 
and  future  for  cryptography  is  seen  in  the  fact 
that  so  lately  as  the  year  1860  was  patented  a 
machine  for  carrying  on  secret  correspondence. 


148  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

Probably  all  our  readers  must  have  noticed 
on  tlieir  gate-posts  or  door-steps  certain 
mysterious  clialk-marks,  tbe  cryptographic 
symbols  of  the  great  begging  fraternity,  telling 
their  successors  what  fate  their  appeal  for 
alms  may  be  likely  to  meet  with.  The  soft- 
hearted, and  perhaps  a  little  soft-headed, 
householder  who  dispenses  liberally  and  with- 
out enquiry  to  the  bearers  of  every  harrowing 
tale  need  never  fear  any  falling  off  in  the 
stream  of  applicants,  since  the  little  white 
mark  on  his  premises  will  always  suflfice  to 
bring  on  a  fresh  inundation,  while  the  man 
who  finds  (or  puts)  a  square  mark  on  his  door 
will  be  free,  for  it  is  an  intimation  that  he  is 
regarded  as  an  unfavourable  subject.  A  circle 
with  a  dot  in  the  centre  guarantees  complete 
immunity  from  these  uninvited  visitors,  the 
immunity  that  naturally  attaches  to  a  man 
who  is  prepared  to  hand  any  sturdy  vagrant 
over  to  the  police  and  follow  this  \\\)  with  a 
prosecution* 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 49 

Business  people  often  employ  a  kind  of 
cipher  for  marking  prices  on  their  goods  and 
samples  when  for  some  occult  and  mysterious 
reason  it  is  desirable  that  the  customer  should 
be  kept  in  the  dark  on  the  matter.  We  should 
have  thought  that  when  a  man  was  prepared 
to  sell  a  proper  article  at  a  fair  price  and  pro- 
fit,— five  shillings,  for  instance, — he  would  not 
feel  any  difficulty  whatever  in  legibly  marking 
it  with  a  good  wholesome  five  that  need  not 
be  ashamed  to  look  the  whole  world  in  the 
face.  If  for  some  reason  more  or  less  legiti- 
mate, he  is  unable  to  do  this,  all  that  is  need- 
ful for  him  is  to  hunt  up  some  ten-letter  word 
or  combination,  such  as  smoking-cap,  in  which 
all  the  letters  are  different,  and  then  the 
letters  seriatim  will  stand  for  the  numerals 
12  3  456789  0.  With  this  key  before  us 
we  see  that  an  article  marked  MG/'i^  will  cost 
us  27/6. 

We  occasionally  find  the  pushing  business 
man  breaking  out  as  a  follower  of  the  crypto- 


150  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

graphic  art  with  the  idea  of  more  effectually 
calling  attention  to  his  goods.  An  energetic 
dealer  in  potatoes  largely  circulated  the  follow- 
ing offer  of  a  bag  of  the  very  best  tubers  to 
all  who  could  successfully  read  its  terms.  As 
he  was  prepared  to  sell  the  potatoes  at  the 
same  price  to  all  comers,  whether  they  read 
his  cryptogram  or  not,  the  generosity  of  the 
offer  is  not  quite  so  clear  as  any  one  labouring 
through  his  circular  might  have  anticipated. 
The  result  would  probably  amuse  some  and 
irritate  others ;  but  any  way  it  would  call  at- 
tention to  the  goods,  and  the  dealer  evidently 
concluded  that  the  balance  of  feeling  would  be 
in  his  favour  : — 

^^  Eht  otatop  nam  skniht  retfa  gnidaer  siht, 
uoy  11  iw  leef  taht  sih  Hams  elzzup  dna  ytis- 
oreneg  si  levon  fi  ton  gnitseretni.  Ti  sekat 
emit  dna  ecneitap  ot  daer,  yltneuqesnoc  eht 
stcaf  dluohs  eb  erom  ylmrif  detoor  no  ruoy 
yromem;  siht  si  eht  tcejbo  ni  gnitirw  eseht 
wef  senil,     Ew  hsiw  uoy  ot  evah  a  gab  fo  ruo 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  151 

seotatop,  OS  taht  uoy  yam  wonk  elit  eurt  eulav 
fo  melit,  dna  retfa  ecno  gnijrt  meht,  i  leef  erus 
uoy  lliw  taeper  ruoy  redro  morf  emit  ot  emit. 
Sa  i  wonk  eht  seotatop  era  doog  i  evali  on 
noitatiseh  ni  gnittup  erofeb  iioy  ym  suoreneg 
reffo  :  yldnik  drawrof  xis  sgnillihs  dna  ecnep- 
xis  dna  i  lliw  ta  ecno  dnes  uoy  eno  derdnuli 
dna  evlewt  sdnuop  fo  ym  tseb  seotatop ! ! ! " 

It  will  be  seen  at  a  glance  that  this  cipher 
is  merely  the  ordinary  words  reversed  in  their 
spelling,  and  with  a  very  little  practice  of 
reading  the  reverse  way  one  makes  it  out  very 
readily  :  "  The  potato  man  thinks  after  reading 
this,  you  will  feel  that  his  small  puzzle  and 
generosity  is  novel  if  not  interesting.  It  takes 
time  and  patience  to  read,  consequently  the 
facts  should  be  more  firmly  rooted  on  your 
memory  :  this  is  the  object  in  writing  these 
few  lines.  We  wish  you  to  have  a  bag  of  our 
potatoes,  so  that  you  may  know  the  true  value 
of  them,  and  after  once  trying  them  I  feel 
sure  you  will-  repeat  your  order  from  time  to 


r  52  CR  YP  TOGRA  PH  V 

time.  As  I  know  the  potatoes  are  good,  I 
have  no  hesitation  in  putting  before  jou  my 
generous  offer :  kindly  forward  six  shillings 
and  sixpence,  and  I  will  at  once  send  you 
one  hundred  and  twelve  pounds  of  my  best 
potatoes ! ! !  " 

We  may  add  parenthetically  that  the  pota- 
toes supplied  are  excellent  in  quality,  that  Ave 
had  pleasant  experience  of  them  long  before 
and  after  the  issue  of  this  cryptogram,^  and  that 
they  are  well  able  to  stand  on  their  merits  even 
without  any  adventitious  aid ;  and  the  same 
remark  may  be  made  of  the  excellent  "  stick- 
fast  paste,"  which  nevertheless  is  advertised, 
amongst  other  ways,  as  follows  :  "  STI  OKPH 
AST  PAS  T  EST  lOKS."  As  one  more  illus- 
tration of  this  commercial  use  of  cryptography, 
we  may  quote  the  following  advertisement : 
"My  darling,  Rof  tobacco  og  ot  Nospmoht, 
ytrof  evif,  Kcirederf  Teerts,  Daetspmah  Daor." 

^  And  that  we  did  not  write  or  suggest  this  crypto- 
gram ! 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  153 

The  process  again  is  simple  reversal,  and  from 
it  the  reader  will  readily  learn  where,  if  he  be 
a  smoker,  he  may  find  due  replenishment  of 
his  pouch.  Such  trade  uses  of  the  crypto- 
gram are  naturally  of  the  simplest  nature,  and 
present  no  difficulty,  as  the  great  object  is  that 
the  person  whose  eye  it  catches  should  be  able 
to  readily  read  the  advertisement;  to  puzzle 
and  baulk  him  would  frustrate  the  whole  in- 
tention of  the  thing. 

We  have  now  travelled  throughout  the  cen- 
turies from  Julius  Caesar  and  Herodotus  to  the 
vendors  of  potatoes  and  the  makers  of  paste 
in  this  present  year  of  grace ;  from  the  victors 
of  Naseby,  the  fugitives  of  Culloden,  to  the 
shopkeeper  of  the  Hampstead  Koad.  Our 
rapid  review  of  these  hundreds  of  years  has 
not  been,  we  trust,  without  int'Crest,  and  it  will 
at  least  have  shown  that  the  subject  has  been 
held  of  great  importance,  that  it  has  taken  its 
part  in  making  history,  and  in  the  rise  and  fall 
of  great  causes,  and  that  it  is  something  more 


154  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

and  better  than  a  mere  shield  to  the  knave  or 
the  veiled  appeal  of  the  love-struck  swain  in 
the  columns  of  the  newspaper. 


Frcx.  15. 


We  turn  now  to  the  practical  consideration 
of  divers  systems  of  cryptographic  commvini- 
cation,  and  tlie  first  of  these  is  that  known  as 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  155 

the    "grille."     It  is  a  very  good  method  for 
short   communications.      The    sender   and   re- 
ceiver are  each  in  possession  of  a  similar  piece 
of  cardboard,  and  this  cardboard  is  pierced  with 
openings    at  irregular  intervals.      The  sender 
then  writes  his  message  through  these  open- 
ings on  to  a  piece  of  plain  paper  that  is  placed 
beneath.     He  then  removes  the  grille/  and  fills 
up  the  rest  of  the  paper  with  any  other  letters 
or  words  that  occur  to  him  as  being  calculated 
to   throw   any  unauthorized   third    person    off 
the  scent.     The  receiver  merely  places  on  the 
communication  his  duplicate  grille,  and  reads 
the  message,  all  superfluous  material  being  to 
him  no  distraction,  since  it  is  hidden  by  the 
unpierced  portion  of  his  card.     Sometimes  the 
essential  message  is  veiled  by  the  addition  to 
it  of   other  words   that  transform  it  into  an 
entirely   innocent-looking   affair;    but   this    is 
very  difficult  to  do  properly.     Any  indication 

^  In  France,  Le  chassis  or  la  grille ;  in  Germany,  Nciz 
or  Gitten. 


156 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


of  halting  composition  or  the  introduction  of 
any  conspicuous  word  at  once  attracts  attention 


i     iCdi     iMEi 

... 

1 '-...J  ...  -L„.»-^«».«- 

^"^             ~ 

isol    [Ojli    i 

^si  "N 

'..-..  i. ....!.-..  »L.....J....- 

wfj L...J.OS! 

"sii  bQ 

, 1 .L. 1 X 1 

'"'-""r'*""' !"•"*"» 

\ iVq ;A|^ 

jqLI... 

llOi    iU  ;    iT 

I L L J 

Fig.  16. 


and  arouses  suspicion.  "  I  "  and  "  for ''  and 
**with"  are  easy  enough;  but  if  the  message 
runs,  "  I  send  five  hundred  rifles  for  immediate 


OR,   CIFHER-WRiriNG  1 57 

distribution,  with  necessary  ammunition,"  it 
would  require  an  enormous  amount  of  ingen- 
uity to  so  wrap  round  "rifles"  and  "ammuni- 
tion "  with  innocent  padding  as  to  make  the 
message  read  as  though  it  were  merely  an 
invitation  for  lunch  and  lawn  tennis.  It  is, 
therefore,  better  to  face  the  fact  boldly  that 
the  message  is  imdoubtedly  of  a  secret  nature, 
and  then  leave  the  objectionable  third  per- 
son to  get  such  comfort  as  he  can  out  of  it. 
Fig.  15  shows  the  pierced  card  that  the  sender 
uses,  and  of  which  the  receiver  holds  an  exact 
duplicate.  Fig.  16  represents  the  message, 
"  Come  as  soon  as  you  possibly  can  to  Louth," 
as  it  appears  to  the  receiver  when  the  grille  is 
placed  upon  it;  while  Fig.  17  is  how  it  looks 
when  dispatched,  and  how  it  reads  to  any  un- 
authorized and  grille-less  person.  The  dotted 
lines  on  Figs.  15  and  10  are  of  course  only  put 
that  the  reader  may  trace  more  readily  the 
connection  between  the  different  squares  :  they 
are  of    no  use  in  the  actual  transmission. 


158  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

If,  however,  we  did  not  care  to  risk  sending 
the  grille  by  post  or  messenger,  the  second  per- 
son in  the  transaction  could  readily  make  one 

VIGOR  IVjEF^I    C^STO 

soREoHic  p/\syLyo 

UpilI^NOSP    SiHeBL 

rLyc  \t^v  ToLoic 

LofTU    EST  rVh  IE 


Fig.  17. 


for  himself  or  herself,  as  it  Avould  only  be 
necessary  to  know  which  squares  in  each 
row  were  pierced.     In  the  top  row  of  the  pre- 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  159 

sent  arrangement  we  see  that  these  are  the 
second,  fourth,  and  seventh.  If  then  we 
take  the  first  figure  to  indicate  the  number  of 
the  row,  and  the  others  to  be  the  openings, 
a  nought  indicating  the  end  of  each  row,  it 
would  be  easy  to  send  a  formula  by  which  five 
hundred  miles  away  a  duplicate  grille,  could  be 
made.  It  would  in  the  present  case  nm  as 
foUows:  124703146802136804246051357.  We 
have  not  taken  the  rows  in  regular  sequence,  as 
the  following  of  1,  2,  3,  4  and  5  in  order  after 
the  noughts  might  suggest  an  idea  to  this 
troublesome  third  person;  but  this  is  entirely 
immaterial;  the  different  rows  are  there  all 
the  same. 

If  we  have  a  suspicion  that  our  grille,  is 
known,  all  that  would  be  necessary  would  be 
to  turn  it  upside  down,  the  old  bottom  edge 
being  now  the  top  one.  This  at  once  throws 
the  squares  into  a  new  sequence,  and  gives  us 
a  fresh  start. 

In  Figs.  18,  19,  and  20  we  have  a  somewhat 


l6o  CR  YPTOGRAPH  Y 

similar  contrivance,  the  "  revolving  grille," 
though  it  is  perhaps  still  more  puzzling.  The 
grille  this  time  has  certain  openings  made  in  it 


'o 

o 

o  " 

o 

o 

o 

o 

o 

o 

c 

o 

D 

Fig.  18. 


(of  course  we  need  scarcely  pause  to  say 
that  their  shape,  round  or  square,  is  a  very 
minor  point.  Sometimes  it  would  be  easier  to 
cut  a  square  hole,  and  sometimes  to  punch  a 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING 


i6i 


round  one) ;  but  these  openings  do  not,  as  in 
the  previous  example,  at  once  suffice  for  the 
whole  message.     To   use   this  grille,   we    first 


Fig.  19. 

place  the  card  so  that  the  edge  AB  is  upper- 
most, and  in  these  openings  we  place  as  many 
letters  as  they  will  take.  We  then,  still  keep- 
ing  our    under   paper   in   the    same    position 

L 


l62  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

turn  the  grille  so  tliat  BD  is  the  upper  edge, 
and  in  these  new  blanks  go  on  writing  our 
message  until  these  in  turn  are  filled.  We 
then  turn  the  card  until  DC  is  the  upper  edge, 
and  proceed  as  before,  and  finally  we  give  it 
one  more  turn  and  bring  the  edge  OA  to  the 
top.  The  ten  openings  of  Fig.  18  thus  give 
us  in  rotation  forty  openings,  as  we  see  in 
Fig.  19.  The  result  is  a  very  hopeless-looking 
mixture  of  letters,  the  effect  we  get  in  Fig. 
20.  This  Fig.  20  is  the  communication  as  the 
sender  dispatches  it,  as  the  receiver  gets  it, 
and  as  it  appears  to  all  who  may  see  it.  To 
reduce  this  chaos  to  full  legibility,  the  receiver 
takes  his  duplicate  grille  and  places  it,  AB 
uppermost,  on  the  message,  and  through  its 
ten  openings  he  reads  "urgent  need."  He 
then  turns  the  grill  until  BD  is  the  top  edge, 
and  the  openings  now  read  "  only  hold  ou." 
The  next  turn,  DO,  tells  him  "  t  another  we," 
and  the  final  shift  of  the  card  to  CA  as  its 
upper  edge  reveals  now  "  ck  at  most  JP,"  and 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 63 

the  whole  warning  stands  clearly  before  him : 
"  Urgent  need,  only  hold  out  another  week  at 
most. — J.P."  Fig.  19  is  merely  added  to  show 
how  the  forty  openings  made  by  the  revolution 


U  .  0 

R 

N 

C     E 

I-      E 

N 

K 

T 

A.        N 

^        Y 
E 

E 

T 

w.       0 

H          0 
0      0 

L 

T 
U 

H 

N 

0     R 

T 

W 

P      E 

Fig.  20. 


of  the  ten  group  themselves :  the  essential  figures 
are  Figs.  18  and  20,  being  the  grille  used  for 
the  message,  and  the  resulting  message  itself. 


l64  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

We  have  already  in  Fig.  9  shown  what 
is  technically  called  the  "  ladder "  cipher,  a. 
form  made  by  slipping  a  card  along,  and  we 
now  have  in  Fig.  21  another  arrangement 
based  on  mnch  the  same  principle,  though  it 
works  out  somewhat  differently.  To  make 
this  form,  the  "  slip -card,"  we  take  a  long  thin 
slip  of  cardboard,  and  then  we  cut  two  long 
longitudinal  slits  in  it,  so  as  to  about  divide 
the  card  into  three  equal  portions.  On  the 
centre  portion  we  place  the  letters  of  the 
alphabet  in  their  regular  everyday  sequence. 
We  then  get  a  broader  piece  of  card  and  slip 
this  in  the  slits  on  the  first  strijD.  This  second 
card  is  divided  into  squares,  and  in  these 
squares  we  place  the  letters  in  any  irregular 
way  we  choose,  being  only  careful  that  every 
letter  shall  appear  somewhere  in  the  length  of 
column  one,  and  ditto  in  the  case  of  all  the 
other  columns.  About  four  of  these  columns 
will  suffice.  We  now  slip  the  paper  along, 
and  place  any  one  of  these  columns  alongside 


OR,    CIPHER-WRITING 


165 


tlie  alphabet  on  tlie  thin 
tinned  to  nse  this  cohimn, 
it  might  gradually  become 
evident  to  any  outsider 
what  letter  stood  'for  A 
or  E,  and  so  on ;  but  we 
can  shift  the  card  as  often 
as  we  like  during  the 
making  up  of  our  mes- 
sage, so  that  E  is  no 
longer  always  C,  for  ex- 
ample, but  at  the  next 
shift  will  be  D,  and  then 
presently  it  is  T,  and  so 
on.  The  shifting  must 
be  intimated  to  the  re- 
ceiver, or  the  message 
will  all  at  once  go  chaotic 
to  him,  so  that  at  the 
changing  point  we  must 
indicate  by  its  proper 
number  what   column  we 


strip.     If   we   con- 


1. 
D 

2 

3 

F 

4- 

B 

C 

L 

H 

N 

N 

P 

L 

Q 

T 

S 

Y 

A 

C 

D 

T 

H 

u 

Y 

B 

Q 

K 

Q 

S 

F 

0 

T 

N 

L 

z 

B 

a 

U 

A 

H 

u 

E 

V 

M 

X 

P 

E 

Z 

w 

V 

H 

w 

A 

S 

P 

V 

z 

w 

L 

k 

M 

Y 

B 

X 

\ 

D 

W 

E 

P 

X 

X 

T? 

C 

K 

ivi 

U 

Q 

H 

"R 

I 

V 

IV\ 

F 

N 

E 

0 

1 

C 

K 

Z 

Q 

F 

0 

I 

S 

K 

K 

T 

Y 

0 

D 

C 

Fig.  21. 


l66  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

have  changed  to.  These  numbers  would  be  1 , 
2,  3,  and  4,  the  others,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  being  used 
as  blinds  and  non- significants,  or  to  separate 
words. 

If  then  we  desired  to  seiid  the  warning,  '^  If 
you  do  not  return  at  once  it  will  be  too  late,"  it 
might  read,  ZU6SPR9TP6HPM2EDmEW8a 
U6VWPD3GQ8KGXX6HT5QZZXFQT.  The 
message  here  begins  with  column  one,  at  two 
changes  to  the  second  column,  and  at  three  to 
the  third. 

Figures  are  at  times  employed  in  lieu  of 
letters.  It  would,  of  course,  be  a  great  deal  too 
obvious  that  A  should  be  1,  and  B  2,  and  so 
on ;  but  we  may  make  matters  a  little  more 
complicated  by  letting  the  figures  run  in  the 
reverse  direction,  A  being  26,  B  being  25,  and 
so  forth,  but  still  this  too  presents  very  little 
difficulty.  The  following  message  appeared  in 
the  Times  of  September  7th,  1866  : — 

"  1.  2.  9.— 15  22  7,  14  22,  8  22  13  23,  24  12  9  9  22  8  ]  1 
12  13  23  22  13  24  22,  4  18  7  19,  9  22  24  7  12  9,  12  21,  24 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  167 

12  15  15  22  20  22,  11  7,  4  18  15  15,  22  3  11  15  26  18  13, 
19  12  4,  7  19  18  13  20  8,  8  7  26  13  23,  18,  20  12,  26  25  9 
12  26  23,  13  22  3  7,  14  12  13  7  19." 

As  the  matter  is  now  over  thirty  years  old 
there  can  be  no  objection  to  pointing  out  that 
if  we  practise  this  simple  reversal,  the  result 
stands  forth  as  "  X  Y  E,.  Let  me  send  corre- 
spondence with  rector  of  College;  it  will  ex- 
plain how  things  stand.  I  go  abroad  next 
month."  Apart  from  the  simplicity  of  its 
construction,  this  cipher  is  faulty  in  having 
always  the  same  equivalent  for  each  letter,  and 
in  being  cub  up  by  commas  into  words.  These 
are  points  that  greatly  aid  decipherment.  The 
numbers  too,  never  running  beyond  twenty- 
six,  naturally  suggest  that  they  are  the  letters 
of  the  alphabet. 

Figure  alphabets  were  very  commonly  used, 
as  we  have  seen,  in  the  Stuart  times.  The 
best  arrangement  is  where  each  consonant  is 
represented  by  two  combinations  of  figures, 
and  the  vowels  by  still  more.     It  is  better,  too, 


l68  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

not  to  employ  single  figures,  such  as  3  or  5 
or  8,  but  to  always  take  doubles,  like  22  or  57. 
The  message  then  runs  continuously  :  there  is 
no  need  to  comma  off  the  words,  and  every 
pair  of  figures  stands  for  one  letter.  Should 
it  at  any  time  be  suspected  that  the  clue  is 
found,  an  almost  impossible  thing,  a  re-shifting 
of  the  numbers  is  readily  effected. 

The  following  may  be  taken  as  an  illustra- 
tion : — 

A.  21,  63,  95,  70.  J.    37,  46. 

13.  26,  27.  K.  90,  64. 

C.  31,  52.  L.  32,  36. 

D.  83.  65.  M.  72,  98. 

E.  41,  80,  34,  25.  K  77,  m. 

F.  68,  28.  0.  42,  49,  56,  23.     X.  67,  96. 

G.  29,  40.  P.  47,  50.  Y.  89,  97. 
H.  22,  30.  Q.  33,  57.  Z.  24,  45. 
I.    62,  91,  86,  92.  E.  69,  39. 

This  is  the  sender's  list ;  the  receiver's  key 
would  have  the  figures  first,  and  then  the 
figures  they  represent.  This  latter  would  be 
as  follows : — 


s. 

48, 

35. 

T. 

82, 

58. 

U. 

43, 

71, 

93, 

51 

Y. 

61, 

76. 

W.33, 

81. 

OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 69 


21. 

A. 

30. 

H. 

39. 

R. 

49. 

0. 

63. 

A. 

72. 

M. 

90. 

K. 

22. 

H. 

31. 

C. 

40. 

G. 

50. 

P. 

64. 

K. 

"S. 

V. 

91. 

I. 

23. 

0. 

32. 

L. 

41. 

E 

51. 

U. 

65. 

D. 

77. 

N. 

92. 

I. 

24. 

Z. 

33. 

W. 

42. 

0. 

52. 

c. 

m. 

N. 

80. 

E. 

93. 

U. 

25. 

E. 

34. 

E. 

43. 

U. 

56. 

0. 

67. 

X. 

81. 

W. 

95. 

A. 

26. 

B. 

35. 

S. 

45. 

Z. 

57. 

Q. 

^^. 

F. 

82. 

T. 

96. 

X. 

27. 

B. 

36. 

L. 

46. 

J. 

58. 

T. 

69. 

R. 

83. 

D. 

97. 

Y. 

28. 

F. 

37. 

J. 

47. 

P. 

61. 

V. 

70. 

A. 

^^. 

I. 

98. 

M. 

29. 

G. 

38. 

Q. 

48. 

s. 

62. 

I. 

71. 

U. 

89. 

Y. 

This,  it  will  be  noted,  sets  free  11,  12,  13, 14, 
15,  16,  17,  18,  19,  20,  44,  53,  54,  55,  59,  60, 
73,  74,  75,  78,  79,  84,  85,  87,  88,  94,  and  99 
for  use  for  any  special  purpose,  such  as  names 
of  people  and  places,  or  anything  of  such  con- 
stant occurrence  that  it  would  be  an  advan- 
tage to  be  able  to  express  it  by  two  figures 
instead  of  the  twelve  that  would  otherwise  be 
necessary  to  spell  out  London,  or  the  twenty 
that  Parliament  would  require.  Twenty- seven 
pairs  of  figures  are  thus  set  free  as  symbols 
for  anything  that  may  be  decided  upon  be- 
tween sender  and  receiver. 

Any  one  sending  a  dispatch  by  this  code  uses 
any  figures  he  likes  from  those  standing  to  the 


170  CR  YPTOGRAPHY 

letter  he  Avants ;  L,  for  instance,  being  either 
32  or  36,  while  the  receiver,  glancing  down  his 
key-list,  sees  that  either  32  or  36  are  equally 
L.  The  prying  would-be  decipherer  is  thus  at 
once  thrown  off  the  scent.  He  knows,  for  in- 
stance, that  double  L  is  a  rather  common 
termination ;  but  when  the  same  letter  is  repre- 
sented sometimes  by  one  pair  of  figures  and 
sometimes  by  another,  he  cannot  find  this 
double  L.  "  Shall,^'  for  example,  would  read 
48223236  or  35303632.  He  knows,  too,  tliat 
E  is  the  commonest  of  all  the  letters ;  but  when 
it  may  be  41,  or  80,  or  34,  or  25,  his  chance  of 
detecting  it  is  but  small. 

As  our  readers  have  the  key  before  them,  we 
hand  over  to  them  the  following  message  for 
decipherment :  224247412680627769239834823 
043393565218933344190. 

By  the  old  method  called  the  "  Mirabeau  " 
the  alphabet  is  divided  into  five  rows  of  five 
letters  each,  marked  from  one  to  five,  and 
each    letter     of    these     rows    is     also     thus 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  11  \ 

marked.  C,  for  instance,  would  be  the  third 
letter  in  the  first  five,  and  would  therefore 
be  o,  while  I  would  be  the  fourth  letter 
of  the  second  group  of  five,  and  would 
therefore  be  t.  In  practice,  however,  this 
regular  alphabetical  arrangement  would  be 
discarded  as  being  too  tell-tale.  The  figures 
6,  7,  8,  9,  0  are  all  non-significants,  and  the 
receiver  of  the  message  would  merely  run  his 
pen  through  them.  The  number  of  the  row  is 
written  as  the  numerator  of  these  fraction-like 
symbols,  while  the  lower  number  is  the  posi- 
tion of  the  particular  letter  in  the  row.  A 
good  workable  code  would  be  as  follows  : — 
1  QGALY;  2  DHNRX;  3  BIMSY; 
4  PKFUZ;  5  EOTWC.  "  Consfcantinople  " 
by  this  code  would  read  as  follows : — 

57523^512    ^3J    5    4    1^ 
5  2    3  49  3  3  83  390  1  38  2  10  4  YT 

This  is  a  very  good  system.  It  will  be  seen 
that  it  gives  good  scope  for  varying  the  sym- 
bols  of    individual   letters;    thus    the    thrice 


172  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

occurring  N  of  this  word  is  each  time  repre- 
sented bj  a  quite  different  symbol.  As  an 
exercise  in  the  same  key  we  hand  over  the 
following  to  the  consideration  of  our  students 
of  cryptography  : — 

4  29  4  38  27  47  18  3  17  1  i9  4' 

Yet  another  numerical  method  is  that  of 
Count  Grousfield.  For  this  any  three  figures 
are  taken,  as,  for  example,  431.  The  message 
is  then  written  out  roughly  by  the  sender,  and 
these   figures  placed  over   each   letter  in   the 

43      14       314314        31       43 

following  way  :  Come  at  once  to  us 
We  now  proceed  to  write  out  our  message  for 
dispatch,  but  instead  of  using  C  we  use  the 
fourth  letter  from  it ;  instead  of  0  we  employ 
the  third  letter  from  it,  and  instead  of  M  the 
first  letter  from  it,  while  for  E  we  recompience 
by  taking  in  its  stead  the  fourth  letter  in  the 
alphabet  from  it.  Our  message  would  there- 
fore read  GRNI  DU  SQDI  WP  YV.  Here 
again  it  will  be  seen  that  the  same  symbol  is 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 73 

not  always  associated  witli  the  same  letter. 
Thus  the  twice  recurring  C  is  in  one  part  of 
our  communication  represented  by  Gr,  and  in 
another  by  D,  while  the  threefold  0  is  E,  or  S, 
or  P,  in  different  parts  of  the  message.  Of 
course,  if  we  took  513  as  the  recurring  num- 
ber, the  letters  we  introduced  into  our  crypto- 
gram would  be  in  regular  sequence  the  fifth, 
first,  and  third  from  the  true  ones,  and  there 
is,  we  need  scarcely  say,  no  special  virtue  in 
grouping  the  figures  in  threes,  the  key  might 
as  readily  be  composed  of  four  or  five.  Thus 
we   might,  for    example,  use  31042,  and   our 

3104        23        1042 

message  would  then  read,  Come    at    once 

3     1       0   ^4 

to  us,  the  cryptogram  based  on  this  key 
being,  FPMI  CW  PNGG  WP  UW.  The 
following  statement,  based  on  the  key  of  2130, 
we  pass  on  to  our  readers:  KM-HSV-FQCQSH- 
CJFC-LWJ.  The  system  is  a  very  simple 
and  good  one,  the  key  being  of  so  easy  a 
nature  to  remember  or  to  transmit. 

In    some    ciphers   the    real   letters    are   em- 


174 


CRYPTOGRAPHY 


ployed,  but  they  only  reveal  tlieir  meaning 
when  read  in  some  special  way :  left  to 
right,  and  then  the  next  right  to  left,  up- 
wards, or  downwards,  or  diagonally.  They 
are  ordinarily,  however,  not  difficult  of  detec- 


T 

I 

0 

E 

F      S 

P   \   E 

C 

N 

C      E 

P 

S 

F 

E 

c 

I 

T 

I 

C 

E 

F 

s  1  P 

E   1   C 

N 

I 

N      C 

E 

P 

S 

F 

E 

C 

I 

C 

E 

F 

S 

P  1  E 

0  1  N 

I 

R 

I|N 

C 

E 

P 

S 

F 

B 

c 

E 

F 

s 

P 

E      C 

N  1    I 

R 

P 

R  1   I 

N 

0 

E 

P 

S 

F 

E 

F 

S 

P 

B 

0  1  N 

I      R 

P 

0 

P     R 

I 

N 

C 

E 

P 

S 

F 

S 

P 

E 

c 

N|I 

r|  P 

0 

I^ 

0  1  P 

R 

I 

N 

0 

E 

P 

s 

P 

E 

C 

N 

I|R 

P      0 

L 

I 

L      0 

P 

« 

I 

N 

0 

E 

P 

E 

C 

N 

I 

R      P 

0  1  L 

I 

s 

I    !  L 

0 

P 

R 

I 

N 

C 

E 

P 

E 

C 

N 

I|B 

P      0 

L 

I 

L      0 

P 

R 

T 

N 

0 

E 

P 

S 

P 

E 

C 

N      I 

R      P 

O 

L 

o|p 

B 

I 

N 

C 

E 

P 

S 

F 

S 

P 

E 

C      N 

I      R 

P 

0 

P      R 

I 

N 

c 

E 

P 

S 

F 

E 

F 

S 

P 

E   j   C 

N      I 

R 

P 

R 

I 

N 

C 

E 

P 

s 

F 

E 

C 

E 

F 

S 

P  1  E 

0  1  N 

I 

R 

I      N 

c 

E 

P 

S 

F 

E 

C 

I 

C 

E 

F 

S  \   P 

E  1   C 

N 

I 

N      C 

E 

P 

S 

F 

B 

C 

I 

T 

I 

0 

E 

F      S 

P  1  E 

C 

N 

0  1  E 

P 

B 

F 

E 

C 

I 

T 

Fig.  22. 

tion,    and    we    need    scarcely   pause    to    give 
more  than  one  example   of  them.^     A   better 

^  In  this  illustration,  Fig.  22,  taken  from  a  monu- 
ment in  an  old  Spanish  church,  the  inscription  "  Silo 
princeps  fecit"  can  be  read  in  over  two  hundred  dif- 
ferent ways,  starting  from  the  central  S. 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING 


175 


way  is  to  wrap  tlie  letters  up  amongst 
divers  non-significants,  and  resting  on  some 
sucli  simple  key  as  that  the  letters  of  the 
message  shall  be  those  that  follow  anything 
that  begins  or  ends  with   S.     All  suspicious- 


ABC 

4 

DEF 

7 

Chi 
3 

JK,L 

5 

MNO 
1 

PQf\ 

STU 

2 

V\A/\ 

s 

Vz 

Fig.  23. 


looking  words  should  be  well  broken  up.  In 
the  following  illustration  we  have  taken  the 
intimation,  "I  will  be  up  in  London  to- 
morrow"; and  to  make  it  clearer  to  our 
readers,   we   have   put   the   message   itself   in 


176  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

a  different  type — tlioiigli  tliat  is,  of  course, 
in  practice,  tlie  very  last  thing  we  should 
do — si  %  tels  ivi  fet  so  II  sigh  he  o  sigh  ii 
far  sign  p  has  in  smu  lo  peps  ndo  ri  s  n 
see  iomo  ss  rr  ped  sip  ow  ex. 

The  arrangement  seen  in  Fig.  23  has  some- 
times been  employed,  and  as  it  is  one  fairly 
good  system  the  more  to  add  to  our  store, 
we  give  details  of  it.  At  the  same  time,  it 
is  by  no  means  so  good  as  some  of  the 
others  we  have  dwelt  on.  A  square  is 
drawn,  and  each  face  of  it  is  divided  into 
three  equal  parts.  From  these  lines  are  so 
drawn  that  the  big  square  is  subdivided  into 
nine  small  ones.  In  the  first  of  these  we 
place  ABC,  in  the  second  D  E  F,  in  the 
third  GrHI,  and  so  on  in  regular  sequence, 
until  all  our  squares  are  lettered.  We  then 
place,  also  in  each  square,  any  one  number 
from  one  to  nine,  disposing  them  in  an  en- 
tirely irregular  and  casual  way.  In  our 
present   example   it    will    be   seen   that   these 


ORy   CIPHER-WRITING  111 

numbers  run  as  follows:  4.7.3.8.1.5.2.9.6.  In 
this  key  a  plain  4  stands  for  A,  a  once- 
dotted  4  for  B,  and  a  twice-dotted  4  for  C, 
and   so    on    all   through.     South    Kensington 


WTL 

HSV 

m 

m 

BO 

KU 

(XZ 

PDY 

WE 

tL&dEIFliilH 
fe|]lE3SO 
biPim^iFIIIl 


jij 

ml 


Fig.  24. 

Museum  would  by  this  system  appear  as 
2i223087i23i32ii0122721.  In  sending  the 
key  it  would  only  be  necessary  to  send  473 
815296,  as  the  receiver  would  then  place  the 
alphabet  in   the  nine  squares   he  would  thus 

M 


lyS  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

number.  If  any  treachery  or  underhand 
work  were  suspected,  one  would  merely  sub- 
stitute 965213874,  or  any  other  fresh  com- 
bination. 

If  two  persons  provide  themselves  with  a 
copy  each  of  the  same  edition  of  a  good 
dictionary,  they  may  be  able  to  communicate 
with  each  other  in  cryptogrammic  fashion, 
though  the  method  is  only  available  for 
fairly  common  words,  and  is  of  no  use  for 
proper  names.  The  method  is  to  write  down 
not  the  word  itself,  but  whatever  word  one 
finds  a  certain  number  of  places  back  or  for- 
ward. Thus,  desiring  to  send  off  the  warn- 
ing, ''  Get  away  soon  as  you  can,"  we  use, 
instead  of  these  words,  those  that  we  find 
in  our  dictionary  three  places  behind  them. 
So  that  our  message  reads,  "  Gesticulator 
awakening  sonneteer  artless  yolk  camphor." 

The  system  shown  in  Fig.  23  is  ingenious, 
and  so  is  that  shown  in  Fig.  13;  but  we 
have    in    thinking    them    over    devised    our- 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  179 

selves  a  combination  of  the  two,  to  which  we 
will  giv^o  the  name  of  the  Newark  crypto- 
gram, that  we  think  is  an  improvement  on 
both.  For  the  dots  of  Figs.  13  and  23  we 
have  substituted  lines,  as  being  somewhat 
clearer  and  more  definite.  It  seems  to  us 
that  it  is  rather  a  weak  point  in  Fig.  23 
that  the  second  letter  has  one  dot  and  the 
third  two.  In  Fig.  24,  the  Newark,  we  have 
got  rid  of  the  X-like  cross  of  Fig.  13,  and 
have  grouped  our  letters  into  threes,  as  in  - 
Fig.  23,  the  odd  space  over  being  given  to 
a  second  E.  Having  got,  as  in  Fig.  13, 
various  arrangements  of  right  angles,  the  one, 
two,  or  three  lines  may  be  disposed  in  them 
in  any  direction  we  please.  The  six  charac- 
ters in  the  vertical  column  are  all,  for  in- 
stance, variations  of  the  letter  L,  though  they 
all  agree  in  the  essentials  in  having  the  right 
angle,  and  within  it  three  lines.  By  this 
method,  therefore,  with  a  little  ingenuity,  we 
need  scarcely  repeat  any  form,  and   we  may 


1 80  CR  YPTOGRAPH  Y 

get  the  twenty-six  letters  of  our  alphabet 
represented  by  over  two  hundred  different 
symbols.  W  being  the  first  letter,  is  repre- 
sented by  one  line,  T  by  two  lines,  and  L, 
the  third  letter,  by  three  lines ;  all  being 
represented  within  a  right  angle  of  the  same 
direction.  F  is  the  first  letter,  and  there- 
fore one-lined ;  N  the  second,  and  therefore 
two- lined ;  R  the  third  letter,  and  therefore 
three-lined,  in  a  right  angle  of  the  reverse 
direction. 

In  Fig.  25  we  have  a  representation  of  the 
"  clock-hands "  cipher.  It  is  less  effective  as 
a  cryptogram  than  some  of  the  methods  that 
have  preceded  it,  since  all  its  values  are  con- 
stant— the  same  forms  always  representing 
the  same  letters,  except  in  the  case  of  the 
threefold  E — and  therefore  rendering  it  more 
easy  of  analysis  and  ultimate  detection.  One 
great  advantage  of  it  is  that  the  forms  are 
60  simple  in  character  and  so  distinctive :  it 
is,  therefore,  a  very  easy  cipher  to  write  or 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  l8l 

read.  The  dots  are  absolutely  meaningless, 
and  are  merely  put  at  random  as  blinds. 
The  intimation  given  beneath  the  alphabet 
in  Fig.  25  is  as  follows:  "Clock-hand  cipher 
is  simple  in  character." 

\}JVLLl\S\^\\VrA 

ABCDEE^FCHiJKL 

A)v<r^m-/w\i 

MM      0PQR5TUVWXV      Z 

JAyJF\\)VJK{\C\\\} 

Fig.  25. 

The  "  two  word "  cipher  is  a  very  good 
one,  the  same  letter  being  represented  by 
different  characters.  To  work  this  out,  we 
take  any  two  words  of  reasonable  length  and 
place  them,  one  along  the  upper  edge  of  a 
series   of   ruled   squares    and  the  other  down 


l82  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

one  side.  In  these  squares  we  place  the  let- 
ters of  the  alphabet  in  regular  sequence  until 
all  the  squares  are  filled.  The  words  (see 
Fig.  26)  that  we  have  selected  are  "  ordinarily 
thoughtful " ;  this,  therefore,  will  mean  ten 
squares  wide  and  ten  deep,  one  hundred 
squares  altogether  :  so  that  we  get  the  aljoha- 
bet  repeated  in  full  three  times,  and  only 
•four  letters  short  of  a  fourth.  We  see  now, 
by  referring  to  E,  that  it  may  be  either  NT, 
OU,  RH,  or  DU,  while  double  S  would  be 
LH,  NGr,  OF,  or  RL  at  pleasure.  Of  course, 
by  taking  more  squares  still — that  is  to  say, 
longer  key-words  —  still  more  combinations 
could  be  made,  but  the  present  number  is 
really  ample.  There  is  no  necessity  that  the 
two  key-words  should  be  of  equal  number 
of  letters.  "  Ordinary  thought "  would  have 
given  us  fifty-six  squares,  and  that  would 
have  meant  that  the  alphabet  would  have 
come  twice  over,  and  a  few  letters  thrice. 
It   is   by   no    means    necessary   that   the   key 


OR,    CIPHER^WRITING  183 

letters  should  be  words  at  all;  one  miglit 
simply  adopt  any  chance  arrangement  of  letters 
in  their  place.     The  words  are  only  useful  as 


0 

R 

D 

1 

N 

A 

R 

1 

L 

Y 

A 

B 

C 

D 

E 

F 

C 

H 

1 

J 

K 

L 

M 

N 

0 

P 

Q 

R 

S 

T 

U 

V 

W 

X 

Y 

Z 

A 

B 

c 

D 

E 

F 

Q 

H 

1 

J 

K 

L 

M 

N 

0 

P 

Q 

R 

S 

T 

U 

V 

W 

X 

Y 

Z 

A 

B 

C 

D 

E 

F 

c 

H 

1 

J 

K 

L 

M 

N 

0 

P 

Q 

R 

S 

T 

u 

V 

W 

X 

Y 

Z 

A 

B 

C 

D 

E 

F 

C 

H 

1 

J 

K 

L 

M 

N 

0 

P 

Q 

R 

S 

T 

U 

V 

T 
H 
0 
U 

c 

H 
T 

F 
U 
L 


Fig.  26. 


being  easily  remembered  should  the  key  be 
mislaid  and  a  new  one  have  to  be  made.  It 
makes  transmission  of  the  key  easy  also.     If 


l84  CRYPTOGRAPHY 

we  send  to  our  correspondent  the  words 
*'  ordinarily  thoughtful "  on  a  post- card,  no 
suspicion  is  aroused,  and  he  at  once  proceeds 
to  make  his  key,  so  many  squares  wide  and 
so  many  deep,  and  then  fills  them  in  with 
the  letters  of  the  alphabet.  Each  real  letter 
of  the  message  is  represented  by  two  letters 
in  the  cryptogram;  so  that  the  receiver,  on 
getting  the  message,  takes  a  pencil  and  pro- 
ceeds to  cut  up  the  communication  at  each 
pair  of  letters  with  a  little  upright  line,  and 
then,  by  the  aid  of  his  key,  translate  it  into 
ordinary  wording.  The  specimen  message  we 
append  is,  "  Hope  to  be  with  you  by  Tues- 
day "—ITNHRGDU  YHOG  ETOU  LGNU- 
AGIT  RFETDFOT  IHRF  YHRGRHLHIT- 
RORF.  The  same  message  might  be  given 
in  quite  different  characters;  thus  the  "hope" 
might  equally  well  have  been  lUOGILNT. 
Whether  there  be  such  a  thing  as  an  abso- 
lutely indecipherable  cipher  one  cannot  say, 
but  this  "  two  word  "  combination  must  come 


OR,   CIPHER-WRITING  1 85 

sufficiently  near    that   ideal   for   all    practical 
purposes. 

The  subject  is  by  no  means  exhausted,  but 
enough  has  been  brought  forward,  we  trust, 
to  justify  in  the  first  place  our  plea  for  the 
historic  interest  of  cryptography,  while  the 
examples  we  have  given  are  a  testimony  to 
the  abundant  ingenuity  that  the  art  has 
called  forth.  While  the  art  of  secret  w^rit- 
ing  may  be  turned  to  the  basest  uses,  to 
many  it  should  be  a  source  of  innocent  re- 
creation and  an  ingenious  form  of  puzzledom ; 
while  its  value  in  time  of  peril  is  such  that 
a  knowledge  of  it  may  save  hundreds  of 
lives,  or  avert  catastrophe  from  the  nation 
itself. 


INDEX 


*'  So  essential  did  I  consider  an  Index  to  be  to  every 
book,  that  1  proposed  to  bring  a  Bill  into  Parliament 
to  deprive  any  author  who  published  a  book  -without  an 
Index  of  the  privilege  of  copyright,  and,  moreover,  to 
subject  him  to  a  pecuniary  penalty." — CamphelVs  ^^ Lives 
of  the  Chief  Justices  of  England.^' 


A. 

"  A  and  B  "  cipher  of  Lord 
Bacon,  103. 

Abbreviated  advertise- 
ments, 131. 

Abbreviation  of  inscrip- 
tions, 64,  65. 

"According  to  Cocker,"  133. 

^neas  Tacitus  as  a  crypto- 
grapher, 24. 

"  Agony   columns  "  of    the 


newspapers. 


129. 


Alfred    the     Great,   secret 

alphabet  of,  26,  68. 
Alum  as  a  writing  material, 

39. 
Arbitrary     characters       as 

ciphers,  61,  105. 
Archimedes,  writing  round 

stick,  47, 


"  Ars    Scrihendi  Character- 

is;'  the,  62. 
Astronomy,  perverted  in  its 

aim,  12. 


B. 


Backs  of  slaves  a  writing 
surface,  53. 

Bacon,  a  cryptographic 
enthusiast,  101. 

Beads  and  precious  stones 
ciphers,  96. 

Bracelet  alphabet,  how 
made,  96. 

Brass,  writing  upon  in- 
visibly, 46. 

Business  ciphers  for  mark- 
ing goods,  149. 


187 


i88 


INDEX 


C. 

Camden  Society,  reproduc- 
tions by,  76. 

"  Century  of  Inventions," 
the,  82,  94 

*'  Characterie,"  early  book 
on  shorthand,  63. 

Charlemagne  as  a  crypto- 
grapher, 26. 

Charles  I.  a  great  believer 
in  cipher,  68,  71. 

Chemicals,  use  of,  in  v^^rit- 
ing,  55. 

Chemistry,  a  good  or  evil 
as  used,  12. 

Cherry  juice  as  a  writing 
material,  40. 

Chinese  characters,  19,  77. 

Chloride  of  cobalt  as  a 
writing  material,  57. 

Citron  juice  for  secret  writ- 
ing, 39,  46. 

Clarendon's  "  History  of  the 
Kebellion,"  69. 

"Clock-hands"  form  of 
cipher,  180. 

Cocker's  Arithmetic,  cipher 
in,  133. 

Coinage,  abbreviations  on, 
65. 

Colours  expressed  by  lines, 
98. 

Conrad  us  on  art  of  de- 
cipherment, 115. 


Cooper,  Mr.,  as  a  decipher- 
ing expert,  77,  79. 

Copper,  writing  invisibly 
upon,  46. 

Correspondence  captured  at 
Naseby,  69. 

Count  Grousfield's  cipher, 
172. 

"  Cryptograjphia  denudata,'^ 
the. 

Crystal,  art  of  writing  on, 
42. 

D. 

Dactylogy    or    finger-talk, 

16. 
Decipherment,  the   art   of, 

76,  103,  109. 
Delight  in  the  mysterious, 

14. 
Derivation  of  cryptography, 

11. 
Dictionary  cryptogram ,178. 
Disappearing  writing,  44. 
Double  letters  in  constant 

use.  111,  170. 
Dr.  Dee,  the  labours  of,  29. 
Drugging     the      message- 
bearer,  53. 
Dummy  characters  inserted, 

71. 
Dust  or  soot  as  a  medium, 

41. 
Dutch    three-letter   words, 

119,  120. 


INDEX 


189 


E. 

Eggs,   conveying   messages 

by,  43. 
Egyptian  hieroglyphics,  18. 
English  three-letter  words, 

120. 
E,  the    commonest  English 

letter,  75,  110,  122. 

F. 

Fig-tree  juice  as  an  ink, 42. 
Flashing  mirrors  as  signals, 

16. 
Flight  of  James  II.,  82. 
French  in  the  family  circle, 

19. 
French  Revolution,  the,  14. 

a. 

Galls,  use  of,  in  writing, 
88. 

"  Gentleman's  Magazine," 
reference  to,  115,  134. 

Glass,  secret  writing  upon, 
42. 

Goats'  fat  as  writing  ma- 
terial, 39. 

"  Gold  Bug  "  of  Poe,  crypto- 
gram in,  145. 

Grape  juice  as  an  ink,  40. 

Greek  letters  during  Indian 
Mutiny,  20. 

"Grille"  form  of  crypto- 
gram, 155. 


Gum  arabic  and  gum   tra- 
gacanth,  42. 

H. 

Head  of   slave   as    writing 

surface,  25,  52. 
Heraldic   use   of   lines    for 

colours,  98. 
Herodotus  as  an  authority, 

24. 
Hidden,       not     necessarily 

secret,  25. 
Hieroglyphics  not  ciphers, 

18. 
"  History  of  the  Rebellion," 

Clarendon,  69. 
Human    voice    shut    up    in 

tube,  16. 
Hurgoes    and    Climabs    in 

Parliament,  144. 


Inks,  chemical,  for  writing, 

55. 
Inscription       in       country 

church,  75. 


J. 

Jangling     of     bells     as     a 

signal,  16,  95. 
Juniper    juice    as    writing 

material,  39. 


190 


INDEX 


K. 

Kidd's  treasure  cliest  dis- 
covered, 145. 

"  Knotted  string  "  alj^lia- 
bet,  95. 


*'  Ladder  "  form  of  cipher, 
164. 

Legitimate  use  of  crypto- 
graphy, 13. 

"  Les  Notes  occultes  des 
Lettres;'  33. 

"  Lexicon  Bijplomaticum ,' 
the,  64. 

Litharge,  its  use  in  secret 
writing,  39. 

M. 

Marquis      of      Worcester's 

book,  82,  94. 
Mary  Queen  of   Scots'  use 

of  cipher,  82. 
xVia^       marks,  their  use,  QQ. 
Message     wrapped     round 

ruler,  47. 
"Mirabeau"  form  of  cipher, 

170. 
"  Monas   Hieroglyphica  "   of 

Dee,  30. 

N. 
Naseby,  battle  of,  69,  70. 
"  Natural       Magick "       of 
Porta,  33. 


"  Newark  "  form  of  ciphei-, 

179. 
Nitrate   of   silver,    use   of, 

50. 
"Noughts  and  crosses  "form 

of  cipher,  125. 
Nulles,    or  non-significants, 

72,  97,  110,  133. 
Numbers,  use  of,  in  ciphers, 

72,  78,  104,  166,  172. 

O. 

Objections  to  study  of  cryp- 
tography, 12. 

0,  largely  used  in  Italian 
and  Spanish,  110,  123. 

"  One  and  two "  form  of 
cryptogram,  104. 

Onion  juice  as  an  invisible 
medium,  39,  58. 

Orange  juice  as  writing 
material,  39,  46. 


Papal    Inquisition,    victims 

of  the,  43. 
Pepys,  the  Diary  of,  63. 
Pharamond,  a  cryptograph- 

ist,  26. 
Pigeons  as  message-bearers, 

52. 
Poe's  use  of  cipher  in  story, 

145. 
Polygraphia     or     Stegano- 

graph ia,  27. 


INDEX 


191 


Soot     or     dasfc     revealing 


Porta    on    cipher    writing,   |  Smell,  sense  of,  used,  94. 
28,33. 

Potatoes    as     subject     for 
cipher,  150. 

Publication       of       Parlia- 
mentary debates,  144. 


messages,  41. 


i  *'  Standard,"  advertisement 
from,  129. 
Steam  engine,  germ  of  the, 
:       83. 

I   Steganographia,  27. 
Rawlinson     on     Sheshach,   ^  stick-fast   paste  in  cipher, 


R. 


21. 


152. 


"Revolving   disk"    cipher,   |   g^jck,     message      wrapped 


80, 110. 


round,  47. 


Revolving  grille "  cipher,   j   String,  message   by    means 


160 

Ribbon  messages,  95 
"  Ring  "  cipher,  87. 


of,  99. 
Suetonius,     early     use     of 
cipher,  24. 


Royalist    and     Parliamen-   |  Sulphate  of   copper  as    an 


tarian,  14. 
"Rule"  form  of  cipher,  87,   i 
92 


ink,  57. 
Symbolism  of  action,  15. 


Scythian  message  to    Per-      Taste,  sense  of,  used,  94. 


sians,  15. 


Telegram-English,  61 


Sheshach  as  a  cryptogram.      The,  the    commonest  Eng- 


20. 


lish  word.  111. 


Shop  prices  in  cipher,  149.       "Times,"      advertisement 


Shorthand,  early  books  on, 
62,  63. 


from,  129,  130,  166. 
Tramps  and  their  signs,  148. 


"  Siglarium  Bomanum,^^  the,   ;  Trithemius,      cryptograph- 


64. 


ist,  28,  104. 


Sinking    of     ships     signal   '  Tudor  period,  great  use  of 


II 


code,  69. 
"  Slip -cord  "  form  of  cryp- 
togram,  164. 


cipher,  68. 
"Two-word  "  cipher,  nature 
of,  181. 


19: 


INDEX 


Tyronian  symbols,  62. 


Verney,  Sir  Ralph,  cipher 

of,  76. 
Victims  of  the  Inquisition, 

43. 
Vinegar      and    vitriol      as 

inks,  37,  41,58. 


Vowels,      the     commonest 
letters,  111. 

W. 

Watch-fire  signals,  16. 
Waxed  tablets,  use  of,  24,  25. 
Weapon  of  the  ill-disposed, 

12. 
Writers    on    cryptography, 

27. 


Cutler  &  Tanner,  The  Sehvood  Printing  Works,  Fromc,  and  London. 


•i^wi  ^ii.<^  I .  nuv  0  U  UOD 


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